By Arkangel Tembo
Flames scored a 90th minute winner to overcome resilient Comoros and book themselves a place in the finals of the Cosafa Plate.
With scores tied at 1-all and penalties looming, substitute Chikoti Chirwa headed in a Gerald Phiri Jnr’s corner-kick to give the Flames a 2-1 win.
Malawi started the match on a high note as Phiri Jnr came close to score the opener midway through the first half.
His free-kick from 35-yards thundered back off the post and was cleared to safety by a scrambling Comoros defence.
The Flames eventually took the lead just before the half-hour mark as Richard Mbulu’s looping header floated into the back of the net from John Banda’s cross.
Malawi fully controlled the game but failed to use their dominance to score more goals.
Flames led 1-0 at half time.
It was a different ball game altogether in the second half as Comoros put Malawi under siege.
Their efforts paid in the 61st minute as Ali Nissam equalised with a deflected shot.
Malawi made three changes as injured Precious Sambani paved way for Chawanangwa Kaonga while Chikoti Chirwa and Peter Banda replaced Chimwemwe Idana and Richard Mbulu, respectively.
The game looked to be heading for penalties before Chirwa popped up late to fire the Flames into the plate finals where they will face South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on Friday.
Coach Meke Mwase praised the boys for showing a great fighting spirit to kill the game in regulation time.
“We have always been the ones conceding late like against Zambia and Mozambique. But today we managed to avoid that and instead it was us who scored at the death. It shows we are learning.
“Overall, it was a good game. We should have killed it in the first half. Comoros came hard on us in the second half but we managed to contain them,” Mwase said.
“Reaching the plate final is a consolation and good for us considering the disappointing loss against Zambia,” he added.
This will be the Flames’ second plate finals appearance following a 1-0 win over Zambia in the 2015 finals.