The Flames on Thursday survived minnows Eritreaâ€™s late scare to register their first win at the Cecafa Tusker Senior Challenge Cup in a Group C encounter played on a waterlogged pitch at Mandela Stadium in Ugandaâ€™s capital Kampala.
The 3-2 victory over the worldâ€™s 192nd-ranked side breathed a new lease of life into the Flames campaign in their quest to qualify for the quarter-finals, but there was plenty of food for thought for coach Kinnah Phiri and his charges ahead of their last group game against Zanzibar.
The win also gave Kinnah some breathing space as Malawiâ€™s Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana hinted earlier on in Parliament that depending on the result, the coachâ€™s job would be on the line.
As we went to press, the Flames were on second position with three points just like group leaders Rwanda who were taking on Zanzibar in their second game.
In all fairness, the Flames should be thankful to the wet conditions that characterised the game; otherwise, they were forced into rearguard action by the Red Sea Boysâ€™ deft touches and exquisite passing towards the end.
Under pressure, Kinnah made three changes to the team that lost to Rwandaâ€™s Amabvubi 2-0 in their opening match.
John Lanjesi, match-maker Micium Mhone and Rodrick Gonani were thrown into service at the expense of George Nyirenda, Bernard and Green Harawa [not related].
The Flames started at full throttle and were two goals up in under 12 minutes. Chiukepo Msowoya ended his lengthy goal drought with a flying header from Mhoneâ€™s well-curled cross barely three minutes into the game.
Then Mhone, who was unmistakably man-of-the-match, added the second after 11 minutes with a classic long-range missile that squirmed past helpless Eritreaâ€™s goaltender Kelesi.
The Flames went three up in the 67th minute when a long ball from Joseph Kamwendo was flicked into the path of Chiukepo by Gonani before the burly forward headed it home for his second of the afternoon.
Barely a minute later, the Eritreans hit one back through Ghide after he capitalised on a fumbled ball by Swini. The striker then cooly dribbled past the Flames goalminder before shooting the ball into the net.
Flames line-up: Swini, Foster Namwela, Steve Chagoma, Moses Chavula, Lanjesi, Patrick Masanjala (Ndaziona Chatsalira), Chimango Kayira, Kamwendo (Innocent Bokosi), Mhone, Chiukepo, Gonani (Nyirenda).