Malawi national team blew the lead on Tuesday when Guinea earned a 1-2 win in Group L qualifiers of 2017 Africa Cup of Nation played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Guinea did them a big favour when they produced a masterly second half show that tore apart Malawi and helped them seize control of second position Group L.
As he has often done, Chiukepo Msowoya took the responsibility to put the Flames into the lead when he headed in a Micium Mhone’s cross in the 30th minute.
And what a beauty of a goal, struck which sent Guinea stopper Yattara Mousaa the wrong way.
However, despite of accelerating their gear, the Flames displayed a disjointed show, as they resorted into aerial balls.
The Flames also endured a frustrating first half, as they struggled to breakthrough.
But it was a different tale in the second period as Guinea responded in a big way by piling up a lot of pressure to the Flames, especially on the midfield where the home team lost ball possession.
Playing in front of an appreciative crowd, the Flames failed to find their rhythm giving the visitors more space to manoeuvre.
Guinea found an equalizer in the 46th minute when goalkeeper Bright Munthali failed to clear the ball over the bar that saw Mohamed Yattara shot in the net as an equalised just before half-time.
The partisan home fans thought their team will come flat-out in the second half, oops! Guinea breathed fire and they pushed on, securing an excellent away victory through Idrissa Sylla’s 60th-minute goal.
The goal was a result of poor timing by young Munthali in Flames goals after he failed to clear a loose ball in the box.
In the 74th minute, Guinea goalkeeper produced a fine save to deny John Banda from the free-kick as he dived to his right and tipped the ball over the cross bar.
However, the visitors kept coming but thanks to Harry Nyirenda and Stanely Sanudi who were superb in defence.
Guinea are three points behind group leaders Zimbabwe with two games remaining.
Malawi coach Ernest Mtawali hinted they would need to focus on the next match and invest much in preparations before the clash with Zimbabwe in June.
“We need to put more in terms of our preparations. It doesn’t mean that if we are anchoring the group we sit and think everything will work automatically. So we need to prepare ourselves very well so that we collect maximum points against them,” said Mtawali.
Mtawali also said the defeat was a big blow to their quest for qualification.
“It’s a very bad result. The result is a bit embarrassing . We lost our shape a bit. Instead of playing with our heads and remaining focused we started playing with our hearts. Gaps started appearing in our defence and the visitors capitalized.
“But we will fight on. We still have six more points to play for. We will try to reach 8 points and then see where that puts us. Of course we are keeping our fingers crossed that maybe the other group results go our way,” said Mtawali.
Flames will face Zimbabwe in Harare in their next match and then conclude the campaign against Swaziland in Blantyre.
Elsewhere: BBC Reports ..
Ethiopia held Algeria 3-3 to prevent the Desert Foxes booking their place at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Algeria would have qualified for the tournament had they beaten Ethiopia, who they had thrashed 7-1 in Blida in their first group meeting on Friday.
This time Ethiopia took the lead three times but a late penalty by Faouzi Ghoulam secured a point for Algeria.
Algeria are top of Group J with 10 points, five points clear of Ethiopia with two matches left to play.
The 13 group winners are guaranteed a place at the finals in Gabon, with the two best-placed runners-up also going through. Gabon qualify automatically as hosts.
Getaneh Kebede scored either side of Islam Slimani’s equaliser to put Ethiopia 2-1 up on Tuesday.
Aissa Mandi levelled again and Dawit Fikadu restored Ethiopia’s advantage only for Ghoulam to slot home from the spot with five minutes remaining.
In the other match in the group Lesotho were surprise victors over Seychelles.
Tumelo Khutlang struck the winning goal for the hosts, avenging the 2-0 away defeat Lesotho suffered in Seychelles four days ago and giving Lesotho their first points of the group stage.
The results mean Algeria will qualify for the finals if they avoid defeat against Seychelles in June.
Senegal also had a chance of booking their place in Gabon following their 2-1 win in Niger – but they needed a draw between Burundi and Namibia.
Instead, Burundi secured a 3-1 away to sustain the competition in Group K.
However, leaders Senegal need only to avoid defeat against Burundi in June to ensure their qualification.
Rwanda thumped Mauritius 5-0 with Ernest Sugira scoring a rapid-fire brace in their Group H tie in Kigali.
It gave Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry’s side sweet revenge for their 1-0 defeat in Mauritius three days ago.
Dominique Nshuti started the rout on 11 minutes, followed on the half hour by two goals in a minute from Sugira to make it 3-0 at half-time.
Fitina Omborenga and Jean-Baptiste Mugiraneza score a goal apiece in the send half to complete a comprehensive victory.
Rwanda move up to second in the table on six points., four points behind Ghana.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :