Goalkeeper Mcdonald Harawa threw himself down, tears streaming down his cheek. Coach Young Chimodzi and his assistant Jack Chamangwana stood motionless and speechless.
With such depressing sights and sounds of the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Flames were last night booted out of the 2015 Cosafa Cup held in South Africa.
Yet it should not have descended into this depressing state of affairs. Once again, Malawi’s two legendary defender-turned-coaches—Chimodzi and Chamangwana—had failed to drill the Flames on the art of defending on which cup winning sides thrive on.
No doubt, their jobs are in jeopardy after the Flames rendered useless Muhamad Sulumba and Limbikani Mzava’s 50th and 88th minute goals.
It was a case of comical defending and a curse of post-match penalties. Flames had squandered a 2-1 lead in the last minute to gift Mozambique’s Mambas a 5-4 post-match penalty shoot-out win. Once again a Cosafa third quarter-final had to end on penalties.
Yamikani Fodya, Sulumba and Tizgobele Kumwenda missed their spot kicks whereas Luis Miquissone converted the last for the Mambas who proceed to date Botswana in the 2015 Cosafa Cup semi-final. The Flames meet Bafana Bafana in Cosafa Plate category for losing in the quarter-finals.
Frank Banda, Limbikani Mzava, Fischer Kondowe and Lucky Malata converted their penalties. Mozambique scored through Isac Dervalho, Norberto Marcelino Norberto, Ussama Mahumane, Momed Hagi whereas Gildo Vilanculos and Sadan Guamble fluffed their earlier spot-kicks.
Malawi were off to a messy start and nearly got punished when Mzava, for all his loads of experience, casually back-passed the ball.
Lurking by, Mozambique striker Dervalho picked the ball and shot wide marginally with on-rushing goalkeeper McDonald Harawa exposed.
The Flames finally got punished four minutes later as Robin Ngalande, playing more for entertainment than deliverance, misplaced a pass.
Mozambique seized the opportunity to whip the ball into the box from where captain of the day Lucky Malata turned the ball into his net.
The Flames tried to crawl their way into the game, but while Gerald Phiri Junior passed and led attacks with pin-point passes alongside John Banda, Ngalande misplaced them over and over again. The Flames finished the game strongly, but with no goal to show off for.
Malawi conceded with the Mambas not needing to shoot on target in the game that ended with John Banda side-netting after being put through by overlapping Mzava.
After break, Chimodzi withdrew Ngalande for Kumwenda. And soon, the Flames got back into the game as Banda fired, forcing Mozambique goalkeeper Cesar Machava to punch the ball for a corner.
Banda took the corner kick from which Sulumbu thumped into the net on the 50th minute.
After the goal, the Flames withdrew in defensive mode while pumping balls forward. Chimodzi eventually substituted Phiri for Frank Banda to add bite to the loose midfield whereas Fischer Kondowe came in for injured Micium Mhone.
Malawi got a penalty as Norbeto fouled John Banda to earn Malawi a penalty which Mzava drilled with all anger into the net with two minutes remaining on the clock.
The lead lasted barely a minute as Saddan Guambe cut on the left and rolled his shot beyond retreating Flames defence. Fodya allowed Dervalho to cut inside for Guambe to deflect his shot off Malawi’s leaky defence. The ball rolled at the low side of the net. It was time for post-match penalties.
Malawi entered the pitch amid cheering by a handful of Malawians flying Malawi flags on the western terraces. The Flames marched onto the pitch minutes after Madagascar had booted out Ghana from the quarter-final by beating them 2-1 with Simouri Olivier firing into the net the winner on the 89th minute.
Surprise package Madagascar now date Namibia in the quarter-final. Randriamanjaka Rinho Michel had scored the opener for Madagascar with a 27th minute free-kick, only for Daniel Darkwah to equalise 11 minutes later with an equally stunning long-range shot.