Zambia’s Chipolopolo dominance over the Flames was on display again as the two sides met in a friendly International match, played on Wednesday at Nkoloma Stadium.
This was a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the two traditional arch rivals ahead of another set of 2021 AFCON qualifiers slated for next month.
Collins Sikombe’s 14th minute goal was all the Chipolopolo boys needed to secure a win against the vistors.
Sikombe found himself at the end of along pass to beat Brighton Munthali, manning Flames goal to put the host in front.
Thereafter, Zambia laid a seige deep inside the visitors own half and dictated the flow of the game for a better duration of the first hald.
Before the halftime recess, Flames goalkeeper and defender Dennis Chembezi produced superb individual performances as they twice frustrated Emmanuel Chabuya from increasing the tally.
Flames coach Meck Mwase at the stroke of half time substituted Chimango Kaira, Dennis Chembezi and Gerald Phiri Jnr, replacing the trio with Chimwemwe Idana, Peter Cholopi and Chimwemwe Idana.
In the second half, the Flames who hardly threatened Zambia’s goal during the first half, launched their first serious attack in the 54th minute.
Gabadinho Mhango initiated the moved with a long pass to Yamikani Chester before the US based Flames winger laid it for Captain John Banda who in turn found Gabadinho in space.
However, the Absa 2019 Golden Boot winner’s first time shot on the edge of the box went over the bar.
In the 65th minute, Malawi made a double substitution pulling out Richard Mbulu and Yamikani Chester for Chawanangwa Kaonga and Schumacher Kuwali.
Just less than a minute after his introduction Kaonga could have pulled level the scores for the Flames but his double kick rebound clearance from a Gabadinho freekick hit the woodwork.
A minute later, Kaonga fed Gabadinho a beautiful pass which the Orlando Pirates goal scorer flipped over Chipolopolo’s advancing goalminder Jackson Kakutha but defender Dominic Chanda coolly cleared the ball off the goal line.
As the Flames pressed harder for an equaliser, Malawi made four successive substitutions calling out Munthali, Sanudi, Gabadinho and John Banda for William Thole, Nixon Nyasulu, Hassan Kajoke and Micium Mhone respectively.
Nonetheless, the Chipolopolo boys managed to hang on a one nil slender lead until the final whistle, to reassert its supremacy in recent years over the Flames.
Flames Coach Meck Mwase conceed defeat but was quick to cite the long break triggered by the suspension of sporting activities in the country due to Covid-19 took a toll on his charges.
“My assessment is that the boys looked rusty, for sure we lost the ball, we couldn’t mark, and these are the things need to work on”, Mwase said in a post match interview.
He went on to say; “We had more ball possession but by losing the ball that’s not what we wanted and couldn’t pressed forward to score goals.
And as for the foreign based players, they played well but lets be frank they too are showing signs that they were equally affected by the long break”, he lamented.
Meanwhile, Mwase has challenged his charges to draw lessons from the Zambia loss and improve on the shortcomings during Sunday’s friendly match against Zimbabwe at the Kamuzu Stadium.