The dream is over. The Flames’ Cosafa Cup campaign came to a heart-breaking end yesterday after giving away a 1-0 lead with two minutes to full time against Botswana’s Zebras at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.
The perfect result was within touching distance, but as has always been the case with the Flames, there was to be a sting in the tail when Botswana’s Kabelo Seakanyeng outpaced Flames captain John Lanjesi to slot the ball past advancing goalkeeper Brighton Munthali.
Malawi had taken the lead through enterprising left back Precious Sambani’s seventh minute strike after a move of utter beauty culminated in South Africa-based attacker Robin Ngalande setting him up on the left side.
The Flames anchor the four team group with a single point going into their last match against Angola’s Negras Palancas tomorrow. Botswana lead the group with four points going into the last round of matches followed by Angola and Mauritius who have three points apiece.
Coach Ronny van Geneugden seemed like a man lost in a labyrinth after the disappointment. He immediately left for the dressing rooms after his world had tumbled yet again at the regional tournament.
Earlier, Angola had given Malawi a lifeline by beating Mauritius 1-0.
This meant Malawi needed to beat Botswana so that all the group members should tie and fight for qualification in the last group matches. But it was not to be.
Left back Sambani became the first Malawi player to score at Cosafa Cup since June 2016 when Malawi beat Mauritius 1-0 through a Miracle Gabeya goal.
Coach RVG said he saw some improvement in the team after Malawi managed to score despite giving away then in dying minutes of the game.
Botswana coach David Bright said they exploited Malawi’s weakness of defending the slender lead. Winners of groups A and B respectively will join six seeded teams in the quarter finals. n