Moyale Barracks FC goalkeeper McDonald Harawa turned the hero of the day after saving two penalty kicks for Malawi to beat Benin 4-3 in penalty shoot-outs and reach for the second round of 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
The match played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Saturday reached sudden death penalty shoot-outs following an aggregate one-all draw after Malawi’s John Banda cancelled Benin’s 1-0 win in Cotonou two weeks ago.
Harawa saved Benin first penalty kick from captain Stephane Sessegnon of England Primiership Westbrom Albion and the fifth taken by Khaled Abdoul.
Malawi scored all the first four penalty kicks taken by Joseph Kamwendo, Chiukepo Msowoya, Limbikani Mzava and Lucky Malata beating Benin goalkeepr Emmanuel Fabien.
It was the hard way win for Malawi who started by giving false hopes of winning the game in open play after scoring in the 13th minute.
The goal followed many scoring opportunities in the first 10 minute in which Malawi outplayed the vistors but lack of compusure from the striking force denied them the much needed goals.
Malawi’s John Banda capitalised on defensive blunder to score the individual brilliance goal with a bicycle kick score.
The Flames could have done better but put themselves under pressure to let their fate be determined by lottery penalty kicks.
In the second half Malawi substituted midfielder Ndaziona Chatsalira for South Africa based professional Gabadinho Mhango who arrived on the same day of the match to sharpen the blunt strinking force.
Mozambique based professional Chiukepo Msowoya was a shadow of his ability and never justified the coach’s decision to let him finish the game until scoring the second penalty for Malawi.
Malawi also pulled out Ngalande for Gastin Simkonda in the 68th minute and he was unlucky to see his goal in the 90th minute ruled out and also missed with virtually the last kick of the game.
Flames assistant coach Jack Chamangwana, who led the team in the absence of head head Young Chimodzi, who was taken ill before the game, was over the moon with the victory so much so that he was spell-bound to express his excitement.
But former Flames capatin Kamwendo, who scored the first penalty put up a splending performance, said he was happy with the win.
“We struggled to win because they had worked on their weakness they observed in the game. But all in all lets celebrate that we have won,” Kamwendo said.
The victory has also offered the players a fat allowance after Football Association of Malawi promised their bonus from K30,000 to K100,000.
Malawi join Brazil 2014 World Cup finals team Algeria, Mali and Ethiopia in what would be a tough group to negotiate and qualify for the Morocco 2015 Africa Cup finals.
The qualifiers will be played from September to November this year.–(Reporting by Patric Lunda and photos by Jeromy Kadewere- Nyasa Times sports desk)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :