Flames yesterday exorcised the demons that have been denying them victory in West Africa as they braved a heavy storm to beat Liberia’s The Lone Stars 1-0 in 2026 Fifa World Cup Qualifier at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia.
Zambia-based Kabwe Warriors forward Chifundo Mphasi came off the bench to score in the 78th minute a precious goal that changed the history of the country’s football.
Before the match, the Flames had never collected full points in this part of the continent since 1980 when they first sojourned to Cameroon and lost 3-0.
But coach Patrick Mabedi, who before the match stressed that it was all about mentality, stood by his faith in his players.
The tactician handed forward Olson Kanjira a debut in his first ever Flames call-up in his 4-5-1 formation.
First choice goalkeeper Brighton Munthali took his usual spot with centre-backs Denis Chembezi and Lawrence Chaziya, full-backs with Stanley Sanudi and Tatenda M’balaka in defence.
The former Flames skipper packed the midfield with Lloyd Aaron, Chimwemwe Idana, John Banda and Lanjesi Nkhoma and Roberts Gomez Saizi in an effort to suffocate the hosts.
Though a 4-5-1 formation, it offered flexibility to change to 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 since Saizi and Nkhoma were expected to play wide when attacking to support Kanjira.
The formation worked to the advantage of Malawi as they won the midfield battle and managed to force the hosts into their territory.
The Flames took the game to the opponent and in the fifth minute, Idana found space on the right and set Kanjira, but his shot in the penalty area was blocked.
In the 10th minute, unmarked Chaziya also, basted over with Liberia goalkeeper Boison Wynney at his mercy.
On the other side the hosts’ real threat came in the 20th minute when Munthali was forced to leave his line to make a dangerous save and ended up colliding with Joel Johnson.
At half time, Mabedi made two substitutions, bringing in Christopher Kumwembe and Wisdom Mpinganjira to replace Kanjira and Nkhoma.
A heavy rain deep in second-half forced the Flames to slow down their pressing game.
Mabedi then made another change in the 67th minute, taking off Saizi and introduced Mphasi.
Just 10 minutes on the field, Mphasi pounced on a cross on the edge of the box and fired past substitute goalkeeper Ashley Williams who had replaced Wynney.
Mabedi in post-match interview said the victory was because his players followed the game plan.
“It was fantastic performance,” he said.
The Flames head back home to face Tunisia on Tuesday at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.