By Jacob Ajom
Malawi National Football Team have charmed the world with their sensational run at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.
The Flames made history by qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time in history after an impressive performance with a 2-1 win over Zimbabwe, goalless draw against heavyweights Senegal and a marginal 1-0 loss to Guinea after featuring a depleted team due to Covud-19.
They completed the fairy-tale run with a sensational 2-1 loss to another powerhouse Morocco in which South Africa-based striker Gabadinho Mhango’s sevnth minute goal was voted Goal of the Day and stands a chance to compete for Goal of the Tournament. Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera commended the team despite failing to qualify for the quarter-finals, which would have made another milestone.
Reads the statement released after the game on Tuesday: “The Flames, I am personally filled with joy and gratefulness for the remarkable performance you have displayed at the Afcon tournament. You have written a new history of our nation’s football.
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“Although you did not qualify to the next round, you have left all of us feeling very proud of you and with much hope for a brighter future in football. Walk with you heads held high and we wait to welcome you back home with pride. Flames Moto kuti buu!!!!
Vice-President Saulos Chilima simply said: “Tough luck, Flames. You gave it all. We are proud of you.”
Zambia’s English Premier League league professional player with Leicester City Patrick Daka also offered his support to the Flames.
“I have nothing against Malawi. In fact I have been supporting them. It’s the only team I have been supporting at the Afcon. I wish the Malawi national team all the best. I have faith and hope in the Flames of Malawi. It’s not an easy match but my money is on Malawi,” Daka posted on Facebook Page before the game against Morocco.
Football analyst David Kanyenda, who is also a lawyer applauded the team, saying: “Flames were already punching above their weight by reaching the second round. Gaba’s screamer jolted the Moroccans into instant action & thereafter it was one way traffic.
Had Flames managed to cling to the lead up to the recess perhaps the complexion of the game would have been different. Otherwise, the gulf in class was palpable and our opponents were deserved winners on the night.
Kanyenda said the performance should be stepping stone for the team to prepare for the 2023 Afcon qualifiers which starts in March.
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