Flames face Lesotho in the semi-finals on Friday

Man of the Match Patrick Mwaungulu

* They have qualified for the semis for the first time in 20 years

* Also for the first time ever to win all their group matches on clean sheet

* Produced Man of the Match winners in all the three group matches — Alick Lungu; Chawangwa Kaonga and Patrick Mwaungulu

By Duncan Mlanjira

Malawi national football team, the Flames, who qualified for the semifinals of the 2023 Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup in Durban South Africa on a clean sheet, face Lesotho on Friday.


The Flames first beat Zambia 1-0 in their opening match on Thursday, July 6 before seeing off Seychelles 2-0 on Sunday and finally Comoros also 2-0 played yesterday — in a game at Moses Mabhida Stadium which they just needed a draw.

They have qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in 20 years and also for the first time ever to win all their group matches on clean sheet.

Both goals were scored in the first half — from Chawangwa Kaonga through a 30th minute penalty and Patrick Mwaungulu’s perfect finish in the 36th minute.

The Flames have also went a mile far by producing Man of the Match winners in all the three group matches — leftback Alick Lungu in the first game against Zambia; Chawangwa Kaonga in the second against Seychelles and Patrick Mwaungulu against Comoros.

Alick Lungu

Coach Patrick Mabedi is quoted by Fam.mw as saying his players had proved wrong critics who were against his idea of taking up-and-coming players to the tournament.

“I am a very happy person,” he told Fam.mw. “These are the players that were never given a benefit of a doubt to perfom like this. But they have fought hard to reach this stage.

“Look, some of us never made it to this stage in our time. But this generation has done it. They have even surpassed what others achieved at the tournament.”

Meanwhile, hosts Bafana Bafana have also qualified for the semifinals courtesy of a brace from super-substitute Tshegofatso Mabasa in their 2-1 victory against Eswatini in their final Group A fixture on Tuesday.

Bafana Bafana v Eswatini

The hosts first drew 1-1 against Namibia before beating Botswana 2-1 to secure 7 points after beating Eswatini.

They will face the best runner-up from the other groups and most likely being defending champions Zambia, although it could potentially be Mauritius or Lesotho, depending on the results of Wednesday’s matches in Group C.

Group B runners up Zambia, who finished with six points after beating Seychelles 4-2, are waiting for the results from Group C. It will be a huge disappointment for the defending champions not to proceed as they hold the most record of title wins — 6 jointly won with Zimbabwe.


Aside from their six tournament wins, Zambia have also finished runners-up on six occasions, more than any other nation — four of those runners-up medals came between 2004 and 2009, before they also picked up a silver medal in 2017 and 2018.

They have reached the final in four of the last five tournaments, the odd one out 2021. The Chipolopolo have also reached the semifinals of the COSAFA Cup on the most occasions at 17.

They have made it through to the deciding match in 12 of the 17 matches and Zimbabwe are the next most frequent semifinalists with 12 appearances.

Zambia has played 66 matches played in the history of the COSAFA Cup and they are the inaugural champions attained in 1997 – winning it back-to-back in 1998.—Additional info by SuperSport