BLANTYRE--Debutante Afriye Aqau dashed all Malawi’s hopes of causing a major football upset when he scored in just the second minute of the second leg tie between the Flames and Ghana’s Black Stars at Civo Stadium in Malawi’s Capital, Lilongwe.
The Flames went into the match seeking to overturn a 2-0 deficit after losing the first leg away in Accra, Ghana three weeks ago.
Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri was bold in selecting an attacking line-up, starting with local teenage sensation, Gabadini Mhango who plays for leading local club, Big Bullets alongside veteran striker, Essau Kanyenda now playing club football in the second division of the African league.
It was a departure from the four-five-one he likes to deploy ion most matches, with a just one striker being supported by marauding winners.
But all hopes for an upset evaporated early on when Porto’s Aqau pounced on a loose ball following poor clearance from a corner to silence the 15 thousand crowd at the Civo stadium.
The goal completely killed the tie as a contest.
The home team huffed and puffed without creating any meaningful opportunities, while Ghana seemed content to play counter-attacking football.
Indeed it was the Black Stars, who came close to adding to the scores, but were only thwarted by alert goalkeeping by Simplex Nthala in Malawi’s goal.
The defeat means Malawi remain with just two appearances at the Africa’s biggest football tournament after making a maiden appearance in Ivory Coast in 1984 which was followed by a more recent qualification for Angola in 2010.
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