The Malawi National football team, Flames, has given the country an independence celebration gift by emerging victorious in a game against the defending champions, Zambia, in a thrilling Group B match of the 2023 COSAFA Hollywood Bets tournament.
The game’s only goal came in the 17th minute when Zambia’s defender, Aaron Katebe, unintentionally headed the ball into his own net from a Stanley Sanudi corner, leaving his goalkeeper, Lawrence Mulenga, helpless.
Flames caretaker coach Patrick ‘General’ Mabedi trusted a youthful side, employing a 3-5-2 formation.
Brighton Munthali started in goals while Mighty Mukuru Wanderers right back Stanley Sanudi captained the side, with Silver Strikers’ Nickson Mwase in central defence and unattached Dennis Chembezi on the leftback position.
Mabedi trusted Lloyd Aron to play as a defending midfielder while Chimwemwe Idana played as a central midfielder.
Alick Lungu was deployed on the right wing while Bangwe All Stars’ Robert Saizi was on the right wing.
Lanjesi Nkhoma played behind twin strikers forward Chawanangwa Kaonga and Christopher Kumwembe.
After the game, Lungu was voted the man of the match for his outstanding contributions on the field.
Lungu attributed the triumph to the coach’s instructions, urging the team to play with intensity and determination.
“During training, our coach told us to have confidence in ourselves, and that we should not be afraid that we playing against defending champions, a thing which we did,” said Lungu.
Another player who stood out was Robert Saizi, displaying exceptional skills throughout the match. Both teams created numerous scoring opportunities, resulting in an intense and action-packed contest.
In his words, Mabedi expressed his gratitude to God for the team’s remarkable performance, considering they had only one day of training prior to the match.
Mabedi further revealed that he had motivated his players to give their all against Zambia, a team that has historically dominated Malawi in various competitions.
“I need to salute these boys for the effort they put in. Today is just a special day, as you know today is the 6th July, Malawi’s independence day. So it was a lot of stake to play, so we have to give back to people to celebrate.
Zambia has been beating us left right, so have to stop the curse. Today we were not playing for COSAFA, we were playing for our independence,” said Mabedi.
In the remaining two group matches, Malawi will play Seychelles at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday, and will also play Comoros on Tuesday at Chatsworth Stadium.