BLANTYRE--The Malawi national football team, the Flames, failed to deliver a convincing performance, but still did enough to overcome visiting Sao of Chad, winning 2-0 at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday.
Malawi were trailing 2-3 from the first-leg after losing in a match marred by violence in N'Djamena and promised to deliver attractive attacking football that would prove that the defeat was a mere blip and that they were a superiority side to their visitors.
Coach Kinnah Phiri made several changes to the team that drew against Nigeria in a world cup qualifier last week, rewarding upcoming midfielder, Christopher John Banda, who rescued a point against Nigeria with an injury time equaliser after coming off the bench, with a starting role.
However, the opening exchanges were a dull affair in which Malawi did very little to threaten Chad’s goalie Mauruini Kassaur with the visitors increasingly looking solid in defence.
Malawi seemed to have gained an advantage when in a rare forward surge, the Seychellois referee Nampiandraza Hamada awarded them a penalty after Chad defender Hamiodou Jules handled the ball in the penalty box in the 31st minute. Highly rated midfielder, Joseph Kamwendo, however, blazed the spot-kick wide to the frustration of 40,000 home supporters, who included First Gentleman Richard Banda, cheering on their local heroes.
But it was Christopher John Banda, whose late namesake uncle was also regular in the Flames midfield in the past, who repaid the faith shown in him by scoring the crucial opener in the 33rd minute with a clinical finish from a goal scramble sending the stadium into a wild din.
The Flames took the lead into the second half when Kamwendo atoned for his earlier penalty miss with a great goal in the 72nd minute. The win has calmed the home side’s nerves as they have now won 4-3 on aggregate.
The win also eases pressure on coach, Kinnah Phiri, who had overseen a nine-game winless streak before this match, in which eight of the matches ended in stalemates.
Kamwendo was ecstatic after the match.
"This means a lot for my career," he said after the game. "Although we didn't play according to expectations we have done our best. After all the aim was to score goals."
About the missed penalty Kamwendo said: "I know penalties are lottery."
Malawi must now wait for the draw in July to know the identity of their next opponents in competition.
On the whole Malawi didn’t play well, especially in the first half, but should thank their defence though on one occasion they went to sleep allowing Chadian Kevin Tatila to fire from inside the box.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.