Malawi gifted Zimbabwe a place in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)finals after they defeated Swaziland at home 1-0 in the final day of the qualifiers as Nswazirimo Ramadhan kicked off his job as Malawi caretaker coach with a victory.
Gerald Papa Phiri Junior scored the only goal of the game at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Sunday afternoon.
The Flames went into the encounter hoping to end a failed qualifying campaign with a victory at home.
Swaziland’s Sihlangu Semnikati were gunning for a victory in order to stay in with a good chance of qualifying for next year’s Afcon finals.
A win could have seen Swaziland finish on 11 points, a feat that could have kept their dream of their first ever qualification to the continental showpiece alive.
It took only eight minutes for Phiri Jr to put the home side into the lead with a well-taken free-kick – making it 1-0 to Malawi.
Sihlangu Semnikati tried to push for an equalising goal – forcing several corner-kicks towards the halftime break.
However, Swaziland could not beat Charles Swini in the Malawi goal-posts in the first half and the Flames were leading 1-0 at halftime.
Soon after the recess, Flames stand-in Coach Nswanzurimo Ramadhan introduced Stanley Sanudi for Steven Chagoma who had tough time to control Swaziland’s players.
The home side had a free-kick in a promising area on the half-hour mark, but Phiri failed to hit the back of the net from the set-piece.
A few minutes away from regulation time, Ramadhan unleashed TNM Super League joint top goal scorer Peter Wadabwa and Rafiq Namwera for Gerald Papa Phiri and Gastin Simkonda respectively.
However, despite making all the changes, Swaziland were the team towards the end of the game only that Swini was good on goal for the Flames.
Swini went down injured in the late stages of the game as Swaziland looked to snatch a goal before the game ended.
“I’m happy for the boys and the nation at large. We have been looking forward to this day and what a way to finish the journey. I have strong belief in this team. I hope we can keep it for the future,” said Malawi stand-in cpach Ramadhan.
Ramadhan succeeded Ernest Mtawali who was sacked following humiliating campaign in the Afcon qualifiers.
Swaziland Coach Harrius Dulunga commended the Flames for the win which ended their hopes of sneaking through to the finals as best losers in the group.
Malawi (1) 1 (Phiri Jr 8′)
Swaziland (0) 0
Malawi: Swini, Mzava, Chagoma, Gabeya, Mlimbika, Banda, Ng’ambi, Phiri Jr, Kayira, Simkonda, Mhango
Swaziland: Gwebu, Mabila, Mkhweli, Palma, Malambe, Mdluli, Nhleko, Tsabedze, Mkhontfo, Lukhele, BadenhorstFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :