Flames finish fourth at Cosafa

Malawi National Football Team, the Flames have finished fourth at the 2023 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup following a 3-5 post match penalties loss to hosts South Africa’s Bafana Bafana at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban, South Africa.

The Flames and Bafana lost in semi-finals to Lesotho and Zambia, respectively.

Interim Coach Patrick Mabedi made six changes to the Flames squad.

Captain Stanley Sanudi, Lloyd Aaron, Christopher Kumwembe, Nickson Mwase, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Alick Lungu started on the bench.

Instead Mabedi for first time featured left back Daniel Chimbalanga, holding midfielder Frank Willard, right back McDonald Lameck, centre back Lawrence Chaziya, midfielder Chrispin Mapemba and striker Chifundo Mphasi in first XI while midfielder Patrick Mwaungulu, goalkeeper Munthali, Denis Chembezi, Chawanangwa Kaonga and Chimwemwe Idana were maintained.

Bafana Bafana coach Morena Ramoreboli also did the same, sidelining starters Keegan Allan, Thembela Sikhakhane, Mokhete Mogaila, Thabo Cele, Sibongiseni Mthethwa, Iqraam Rayners, Alton Kapinga and Lyle Lakay.

Instead, Ramoreboli started with Puso Dithejane, Lancaster Human, Tebogo Tlolane, Shadrack Kobedi, Lesogo Sebetlela, Sepana Letsoalo, Genino Palace and Siyabonga Gumede but still had captain Katlego Mohamme, goalkeeper Mzimela and Tshegofatso Mabasa.

The third place play-off was action-packed, but failed to produce goals despite both sides creating plenty of scoring opportunities.

South Africa got their first chance in the 15th minute when a corner was delivered into the box and headed by Kobedi, but Munthali was alert collect it.

In the 20th, Mwaungulu’s free kick eluded Bafana defence but nobody was in the box for Flames to finish off.

In the 27th minute, Kaonga cruised into the box and played in Mphasi who unleashed a shot with his left foot, but Bafana goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Two minutes later, Munthali had to come off his line to rescue Malawi to stop Mabasa shot in one-on-one situation.

At half hour mark, Mapemba’s volley was too hot for the goalie who parried it for a corner kick.

On the other end, in counter attack, Munthali stretched yet again, to stop a shot from Mabasa.

Bafana made the first substitution just after half time, bringing in Lakay in place of Dithejane.

Then Sikhakhane replaced Gumede while Raynes came in for Letsoalo. Mthethwa came in place of Palace.

Malawi came close to taking the lead in 50th minute when an interchange of passes which started with Mphasi to Kaonga and finally to Idana in the box, but the Silver Strikers midfielder’s shot was saved by Bafana goalkeeper.

Moments later the Bafana goalkeeper did well to keep out a dangerous Mwaungulu trademark set piece aimed for the top left corner.

Malawi then survived scare when Mabasa shot bounced off the post.

Mabedi them introduced Kumwembe for Mphasi while Aaron replaced Willard.

He also took out Mapemba and Mwaungulu and brought in Lungu and Sanudi and the substitutions help to stabilise the Flames.
In 82nd minute Sanudi’s free kick spotted Chaziya, but his diving header was weak and easy for Bafana keeper.

In post match penalties the hosts converted all their spot kicks through Human, Mabasa, Rayners, Mogalia and Lakay.

Malawi’s Christopher Kumwembe hit the cross bar while Aaron, Chaziya and Kaonga converted.

Mabedi in post-match interviews applauded the Flames for showing up for the party despite making six changes.

He said: “Remember these are young players and people did not expect them to reach this far. We didn’t even have time to camp and train.”

In the final, Zambia defeated Lesotho 1-0 in through Moleya Libamba’s header from a corner kick.

Malawi’s forward Kaonga was named Player of the Tournament while the Flames won the Fair Play Award.

The first XI is as follows:
Brighton Munthali (GK), Daniel Chimbalanga, Lawrence Chaziya, McDonald Lameki, Denis Chembezi, Chrispin Mapemba, Frank Willard, Chimwemwe Idana (C), Patrick Mwaungulu, Chawanangwa Kaonga, Chifundo Mphasi


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