Malawi national team coach Young Chimodzi hailed his players especially two experienced players Esau Kanyenda and Fischer Kondowe for spearheading the Flames to beat Mali 2-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers encounter on Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.
The Flames win kept alive the hopes of qualification.
Robert Ng’ambi and Esau Kanyenda scored the goals for Malawi, who are now level on points with Mali, with only one game left to play.
Table-toppers Algeria have already qualified and beat bottom side Ethiopia 3-1 on Saturday evening.
“As it is, the fight for the remaining slot in the group is still open to the remaining three teams and we have to fight for a win in our last match.
“I am so proud of what my players did in this game especially the experience of Kanyenda and Kondowe helped us a lot,” said Chimodzi.
“They played well and concentrated on the job. They have so much potential and l was impressed with their hard working spirit.”
Chimodzi added: “When I came on board a year and a half ago my dream was to make Malawians happy that they could have a very good team they could be proud of.
“We are not there yet but we are in the process and I am happy about that.”
The Flames took a 65th minute lead after Ng’ambi’s shot deflected off his captain Joseph Kamwendo and looped over Mali’s Sissoko and into the net.
Kamwendo came close to doubling the lead seven minute later, but his free kick was well saved by Sissoko.
The win was sealed in the 86th minute when Kanyenda was rewarded for his hard work with a headed goal after a cross from John Lanjesi in the right flank.
“You don’t want to know what was going on in my head five minutes from the end,” said the
“So many things were going through my head but I was keeping the faith.”
Chimodzi was under huge pressure to win the match after losing to Algeria in the previous match.
Malawians had been scathing of his decision to leave established players like Fischer Kondowe and Esau Kanyenda out of the squad in favour of younger, inexperienced players.
Walter Nyamilandu, Football Association of Malawi president said it was “great performance” for Chimodzi charges.
Malawi now head to Ethiopia on Wednesday in search of win to qualify ahead of next year’s showpiece in Equatorial Guinea.
Skipper Joseph Kamwendo has vowed that the players will ” fight for every inch of the way.”