Liberia 0 Malawi 1 (Mphasi 78′)
Flames have started the Africa FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2026 with a rare 1-0 victory over Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia.
Zambia-based Kabwe Warriors forward Chifundo Mphasi scored for the Flames in the 78th minute.
The victory means Malawi lead Group H with three points followed by Equatorial Guinea who also won 1-0 against Namibia.
It also marked the end of the Flames failure to collect full points in West Africa.
Coach Patrick Mabedi, handed forward Olson Kanjira a debut but maintained the rest of the squad with Brighton Munthali in goals; Denis Chembezi, Lawrence Chaziya, Stanley Sanudi and Tatenda M’balaka in defence.
The midfield had Lloyd Aaron, Chimwemwe Idana, John Banda, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Robert Gomez Saizi with Kanjira as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 system.
Packing the midfield helped the Flames to take control of the middle of the pack battle.
Just five minutes into the match, Malawi had their first chance when Idana broke through on the right to set Kanjira, but his shot from inside the box was blocked.
From the rebound, John Banda set Aaron but his shot was saved by Liberia goalkeeper Boison.
Malawi wasted another chance in seventh minute when Lanjesi and Saizi took a shot corner, exchanged a few passes before crossing it inside for Idana, who miscued his shot.
The ball fell in the path of Chaziya but he blasted it over with only the keeper to beat.
Idana then set his captain CJ Banda just outside the box and the skipper took a long-range shot which was collected by the keeper.
On the other end, Liberia won their second corner kick but from the delivery Sherman Sean headed wide.
Liberia made their first substitution as Siumaro Mohamed paved the way for Teah Roosevelt in 26th minute
The hosts then lost their goalkeeper De Souza Wynney to an injury in 32nd minute and he was replaced by Williams Ashely.
Mabedi made double substitution at half-time as Nkhoma and Kanjira paved the way for Wisdom Mpinganjira and Christopher Kumwembe.
Mphasi was then introduced in the 67th minute to replace Saizi.
The substitute broke the deadlock 10 minutes later, blasting home from within the box.
Mabedi sealed the game by taking off Idana and bringing in Blessings Mpokera.
The Flames host Tunisia on Tuesday at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Line Up: 1 Munthali Brighton; 2 Sanudi Stanley, 5 Denis Chembezi,15 Chaziya Lawrence,18 M’balaka Tatenda; 6 Aaron Lloyd, 8 Idana Chimwemwe ( 12 Mpokera Blessings 86′) 17 Banda John ,19 Nkhoma Lanjesi ( 14 Mpinganjira Wise 45′), 21 Saizi Robert(11 Mphasi Chifundo 67′ ) ;10 Kanjira Olson (9 Kumwembe Christopher 45′)
Unused Subs : 3 Chimbalanga Daniel, 4 Rameck Macdonald, 7 Mwase Nickson, 12 Mpokera Blessings, 16 Nyasulu Innocent, 23 Chirambo Austin, 13 Mwaungulu Patrick, 20 Madinga Francisco, 22 Mapemba Chrispine
9 Kumwembe Christopher