* They took the lead in the 22nd minute through winger Robert Saizi
* Guinea scored two goals in two minutes after lapses in Malawi’s defence in the 56th and 58th minutes
* With three minutes left on the clock, when Lawrence Chaziya headed in a corner kick from Saizi
By Duncan Mlanjira
When Egypt beat Guinea in June, it gave Malawi a golden opportunity to qualify for their first-ever back-to-back appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) if they had beaten an already out of contention Ethiopia — but it came to naught as they were held to a 1-1 draw.
If they had won that match, they would have garnered seven points against 9 for Guinea and hoping to win their last match against the same Guinea.
But they have concluded the 2023 Côte d’Ivoire campaign by drawing 2-2 at home — amassing 5 points from 6 games while Guinea end with 10 with Group D leaders Egypt having 15 after they beat Ethiopia 1-0.
Played at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, the Flames took the lead in the 22nd minute through winger Robert Saizi who fired home with his left foot a rebound after Guinea defender blocked forward Lanjesi Nkhoma’s shot.
But after halftime, Guinea — who won the first leg 1-0 at their home turf, scored two goals in two minutes after lapses in Malawi’s defence in the 56th and 58th minutes.
Guinea defended well but the Flames managed to get the equaliser with three minutes left on the clock, when Lawrence Chaziya headed in a corner kick from Saizi.
However, the Flames — whose first XI Brighton Munthali (goalkeeper) (replaced by Clever Nkungula at halftime through injury), Stanley Sanudi, Denis Chembezi, Lawrence Chaziya, Lloyd Aaron (Peter Banda), John Banda (C), Tatenda M’balaka (Francisco Madinga), Lanjesi Nkhoma (Wisdom Mpinganjira), Roger Saizi, Richard Mbulu (Christopher Kumwembe) and Chawanangwa Kaonga — used the match as preparations for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup 2026 African qualifiers in which they grouped with Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Liberia and São Tomé.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches will take place on 10 matchdays over the course of the next two years — the first of which will be on November 13-21, 2023.
The next match days will be held on June 3-11, 2024; March 17-25, 2025; September 1-9, 2025; October 6-14, 2025; and November 10-18, 2025.
Meanwhile, 2023 AFCON hosts, Cote d’Ivoire concluded their last Group H qualifiers with a 1-0 win over Lesotho through midfielder Ibrahim Sengare in the 16th minute.
In the other group match, Zambia finished top after salvaging a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Comoros away from home.
Mauritania qualified for their third AFCON after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Gabon while DR Congo secured their place after a 2-0 home victory over Sudan.
Mozambique will return to the AFCON for the first time in over a decade after a thrilling 3-2 win over Benin — setting the stage for their fifth appearance at the continental football fiesta, whose last participation was in 2020 having previously featured in 1986, 1996 and 1998.
The game unfolded with immense tension, as Mozambique needed at least a draw to secure second place in Group L, behind the formidable African champions, Senegal.
Ghana booked their place after a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Central African Republic while Angola secured their return to the AFCON after holding Madagascarto a 0-0 draw.
Tanzania are through for the first time since 2019 after securing a heroic 0-0 draw away to Algeria with Uganda qualifying with a 2-0 win over Niger.
Tunisia signed off their qualifying campaign in style with a dominant 3-0 victory over Botswana while Mali sealed their qualification with an emphatic 4-0 victory against South Sudan.