The Flames finished the year on a bad note when they went down 3-1 to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in an international friendly match at Moses Mabidha Stadium in Durban on Saturday evening.
Not even the presence of several Malawians at the stadium, that included four legends—Ernest Mtawali, John Maduka, Patrick Mabedi and Kennedy Malunga— could inspire the Flames to scorch the hosts and have a timely Christmas treat.
In a match monitored on SABC 1, the Flames started brightly, but were swept aside with contemptuous ease by the hosts who led comfortably 2-0 in the first 10 minutes.
The first goal, that came in the sixth minute, was as simple as the cheeks of a newly-born baby.
Siphiwe Tshabalala sent a long ball in, then Lerato Chabangu controlled beautifully with a reverse flick just on the box, then took a couple of steps and had his shot, saved, but Lehlohonolo Majoro ghosted in to score from the rebound—it was all simple, nothing was forced from a team soaring with confidence.
Four minutes later, the hosts went two up through Siphiwe Tshabalala’s strike. After some great work by Oupa Manyisa, Siboniso Gaxa beat his man right at the corner flag and managed to pop the ball over his head before going down.
The ball bounced to Letsholonyane, who hit it across the face of goal, where Tshabalala and Majoro were waiting, and the former was the man to boot it home in mid air for his 10th goal for South Africa.
The Flames had their first shot more or less on target, as Dave Banda had a go from range. The crowd gets excited but it’s quite a few inches over the bar in the end.
Malawi reduced the arrears in the 48th minute when Robert ‘Baggio’ Ng’ambi won a penalty, after Siyabonga Sangweni is adjudged to have brought him down. Joseph Kamwendo—who showed flashes of his old self—took it and beat Bafana goaltender Itumeleng Khune high on the left.
The Flames started to press after their opener, and looked more dangerous, but sadly they could not get an equaliser..
May Mahlangu put the game beyond the Flames reach in the 74th minute through a penalty converted after Tokelo Rantie was brought down in the area by James Sangala—Game over? Yes!
Flames line-up: Simplex Nthala, Steve Chagoma, Moses Chavula (captain), James Sangala, Banda, Harry Nyirenda, Josephy Kamwendo, Robin Ngalande (Zicco Mkanda), Chimango Kayira (Micium Mhone), Robert Ng’ambi (Frank Banda), Atusaye Nyondo (Gabadinho Mhango).