Malawi’s Flames did everything they needed to do in their 2022 COSAFA Cup opener against Lesotho, dominating possession and creating plenty of chances in the match played at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban South Africa.

However, some blunders in defence and an impressive performance by Lesotho goalkeeper, undid all their effort as they went down 2-1 in the Group B encounter.

Cheered on by hundreds of supporters that entered the match free, Malawi were a marvel to watch as they showed more aggression.

Flames first 11

Head coach Mario Marinica First XI had Civo goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe in goals, Nyasa Big Bullets’ Precious Sambani returned to the national team on left back position while Mighty Mukuru Wanderers’ Stanley Sanudi as usual was on the right back.

Blue Eagles centreback Sankhani Mkandawire and Bullets’ Blessing Mpokela partnered in central defence.

Bullets’ Chimwemwe Idana got his usual role as attacking midfielder while Idana, stand in captain John CJ Banda was be on the right with Chikoti Chirwa on the left.

Upfront Khuda Muyaba led as the main striker while forward Frank Ganadinho Mhango played wide on the left with Stain Davie on the other side.

The formation balanced as Malawi pressed for an early goal using the flanks while at the same time defending high.

But a blunder at the back allowed Lesotho’s Katleho Makateng to ghost a shot from near post and defender Mkandawire deflected the ball in his own net.

Malawi quickly forgot the mishap and continued pressing for a goal.

At half time, Marinica pulled out Chirwa and brought in enterprising Peter Banda to add more firepower.

But disaster befell the Flames again in the 56th minute from yet another defensive lapse.

Makateng was given a bonus by Sanudi who failed to clear a ball and the striker fired low past Kakhobwe.

Marinica had to act fast and introduce fresh legs, bringing in Schumacher Kuwali, Chiukepo Msowoya and Patrick Mwaungulu for Davie, Mhango and Myaba.

The substitution paid dividends as Malawi regained the rhythm and took the game to the opponents.

The Flames finally got a goal late in the game in the 88th minute through Msowoya who flicked in a Peter Banda low cross.

But the damage had already been done.

The loss means have a mammoth task of winning their remaining games to make it to the quarter-finals.

Eswatini who thrashed Mauritius 3-0 in the pool’s first match lead the group while Lesotho are second.

Malawi are third in the group while the Islanders Mauritius anchor the group.
The Flames play Mauritius on Thursday before completing the group against Swaziland.

Group winners will make it to the next round.

Starting XI:

Lesotho: Tsepo Moerane, Motlomelo Mkwanazi, Basia Makepe, Lisema Lebokollane, Kopano Tseka, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng, Thabang Malane, Jane Thabantso, Rethabile Rasethuntsa, Thabo Mafatle.

Malawi: Ernest Kakhobwe, Stanley Sanudi, Precious Sambani, Sankhani Mkandawire, Chikoti Chirwa (Peter Banda 46′), Chimwemwe Idana, Stenie Davie (Chiukepo 79′), Gabadinho Mhango (Kuwali 85′), John Banda, Blessings Mpokera, Khuda Myaba (Patrick Mwaungulu 79′)

Caution: Chiukepo (82′)


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