Striker Gabadinho Mhango scored a brace as Malawi came from behind to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in an exciting TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations match played at the Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam on Friday.
The COSAFA rivals were looking to salvage their campaign in Group B following defeats in their opening matches.
The two sides went for each other in the opening minutes of the game with action at both ends of the pitch.
Malawi’s Stanley Sanudi had an early chance to put the Flames ahead but his right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right missed the target from Richard Mbulu cross.
Then Zimbabwe’s Gerald Takwara failed to hit the target with an attempt from very close range via a Knowledge Musona with a cross.
Francisco Madinga came close to putting his name of the score sheet but was unfortunate to see his long range strike from outside the box hit the woodwork.
Malawi coach Meck Mwase was forced into making an early change bringing on Lawrence Chaziya to replace Limbikani Mzava who sustained an injury.
Zimbabwe eventually broke the deadlock moments before the end of the first half with Ishmael Wadi heading in from a pin point cross by Onismor Bhasera. But the lead did not last very long as Gabadinho Mhango struck from close range to level matters.
The score was 1-1 at half-time.
The second half begun as the first with a lot intensity in attack. Malawi almost went ahead with Francisco Madinga hitting the post for the second time in the match.
Malawi took the lead with Gabadinho Mhango getting his brace with another fine finish in the box. The Orlando Pirates man calmly slotting the ball past keeper Petros Mhari.
Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza, in an attempt to search for the equalizer brought on Admiral Muskwe to replace captain Knowledge Musona.
Malawi held on to claim three points ahead of the final group match against Senegal on Tuesday in Bafoussam. Zimbabwe tackle Guinea in Yaounde.
What they said
Gabadinho Mhango, TotalEnergies Man of the Match:
“We are delighted to have got our first win and on an individual capacity I feel honoured to be named man of the match.It was not an easy game considering Zimbabwe were a very good side. The tournament has been exciting and performing well at such a stage is both fulfilling and exciting and I want to thank my fellow players for the hardwork we all put in achieving the important win”.
Meck Mwase, Coach Malawi
“We are so delighted to have won our first game in what was a tough game.We begun the match slowly conceding a quick goal but that did not deter us as we fought relentless to come back and win the game. After our first loss we never gave up but went back to work on our previous mistake and today it paid off handsomely and I am proud of our players for that fantastic performance.”
Norman Mapeza, Coach, Zimbabwe
“Our game management failed us today as we lost very easy balls and conceded easy goals.We had a good game plan but the players never followed the instructions to the latter. I feel disappointed but we have taken important lessons and we have also got positives from the game against Malawi and also Senegal. We will go back to the drawing board to plan on our next match which is a formality but we would be glad to get positive results against Guinea and go home with something to console us “.