By Lusekero Mhango
Malawi National Team, the Flames dead rubber clash against Morocco ended in a dour stalemate with the afternoon’s only entertainment arriving at the close of the match from the fans’ missiles in remonstrant to the Referees’ questionable decisions against the hosts.
In a match that had no impact on Group B qualification permutations as Morocco had already qualified before kick off, the eliminated hosts will be pleased to have wound up their home campaign without either conceding or defeat beating Comoros by a goal and forcing goal-less draws against heavy weights Cameroon and Morocco.
But the result completed a miserable week of international football as Malawi neither scored nor won in both junior and senior team assignments against Zambia and Morocco respectively.
The hosts were sloppy and vulnerable from the start allowing the visitors to boss play especially from the wide areas where Idrissah Oussama (10) and and Hadraf Zakaria (7) orchestrated offensive forays tormenting Stanley Sanudi and Gome Chirwa who were forced to stay back and keep taps rather than advance.
But their tantalizing crosses whipped into the box went begging and Flames burst into life easing into the game after a quarter of an hour’s play with Phiri Junior registering the first effort on target.
Gaba then broke loose darting inside on the left but no marauding forward timely arrived in the box to connect home.
Otherwise, the visitors showed far more attacking initiative through the constant threat posed by Oussama and Zakaria.
Evergreen goalie Ernest Kakhobwe stayed alert with close range saves and aerial agility to keep the Flames in the game even as Centre back Cholopi lost his bearings nearly gifting the Atlas Lions the lead moments before the break.
A rain soaked pitch slowed the pace and further lowered the quality of the match most of the closing half. Morocco were however first on the ball constantly robbing possession from the Malawians who dwelt on the ball a second too long.
Aided by a manifestly biased Angolan officiating crew led by Referee Helder Carvalho who blew against the hosts for every minor infraction, our rhythm and tempo were all but frustrated and nipped as the visitors pressed for the opener.
Flames were up against 14 men contrary to FIFA Rules and Regulations.Small wonder the local fans vented their fury through missiles.
If truth be told, the referees indiscretions cannot mask the fact that in their own right the Flames were not only shapeless but mastered only a solitary and speculative effort from John Banda with barely 10 minutes left on the clock
.Chester ran at his markers on a few occasions but he was kept in check whilst Chikotis physical presence somewhat punctured the Moroccans stroll at the heart of the park.
Substitutes Binwell Katinji and Micium Mhone respectively in place of Khuda Muyaba and Gabadinho remained pedestrian failing to inject the requisite verve as well as penetration though Mhone showed some flashes of individual brilliance.
In the end there was no winner as both keepers kept a clean sheets, but it was the home fans grumbling the loudest.