Cosafa Cup: Malawi leave it late to shock Comoros
Richard Mbulu, Malawi
A late strike from Chirwa ensured the Flames are through to the Plate final, where they will meet Bafana Bafana on Friday afternoon

The battle for a spot in the 2019 Cosafa Cup Plate final spot got underway on Tuesday evening when Comoros faced Malawi at Princess Magogo Stadium.

Looking at their previous matches, the Islanders beat Mauritius and drew against Eswatini in Group A to reach the knockout stages for the first time in the regional tournament, but they lost 2-0 to defending champions Zimbabwe in the quarterfinals.

Coach Meck Mwase’s troops finished their Group B assignments without a defeat, drawing once against Mozambique whilst bagging wins over Seychelles and Namibia, but could not continue with their superb run as they lost to Zambia on penalties in the last eight.

Despite a slow start by both sides in the early stages of the contest, Frank Mhango found space in the Comoros defence to unleash a powerful shot, which was parried away by goalkeeper Fahadi Mohamed in the ninth minute.

The first 15 minutes saw the Flames pushing hard to get an early goal, and forced Mohamed to produce three saves before the Bidvest Wits striker attempted an acrobatic shot at goal in the 19th minute, but Mhango could not trouble Mohamed between the posts.

In the 23rd minute, Gerald Phiri Junior had a chance to break the deadlock from a set-piece, but he was denied by the woodwork with Mohamed beaten.

Right in the half-hour mark, Richard Mbulu would finally make it 1-0 for Malawi after converting John Banda’s delivery with a powerful header to beat Mohamed.

Despite their total dominance of the proceedings, Malawi could not double their lead as they headed to the tunnel leading by a solitary goal.

After their return for the second stanza, former Jomo Cosmos player Miciam Mhone came close to making it 2-0 in the 49th minute but saw his well-taken shot sailing inches wide.

However, the Islanders would capitalise on a lapse of concentration on the part of the Malawians in the 60th minute through Elhaddad Hachim’s fine strike, which deflected to beat Brighton Munthali, making it 1-1.

As Malawi looked for an immediate response, Mbulu failed to connect with Phiri Junior’s delivery from a free kick and it went over the cross-bar.

In the final 10 minutes of the clash the Flames piled pressure on their counterparts, but poor decisions in the final third let them down.

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With the two nations seemingly heading to a penalty shoot-out, Malawi found the back of the net in the 90th minute courtesy of substitute Chikoti Chirwa.

Resulting from the 2-1 win, Malawi will now face hosts South Africa in the Plate final at Moses Mabhida Stadium after coach David Notoane’s side defeated the Cranes of Uganda in the first semifinal at the same venue.