By Carlos Kambaekwa
– Namibia 1
– Malawi 3
The Brave Warriors’ fairytale dominance over Malawi finally came to an end when the Malawian Flames sent their Namibian counterparts packing with their tails firmly stuck between their legs in an international friendly at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium last night.
The game started at a frantic pace with both sets of players looking for an early opener, but it was the visitors who played more as a unit, with Ajax Cape Town’s lanky striker Russell Mwafulirwa causing all sorts of trouble for the ineffective Namibian rearguard with his aerial power.
The visitors took the lead slightly against the run of play when the enterprising Atusaye Nyondo caught Athiel Mbaha in no man’s land with a ferocious pile driver from outside the penalty box on the half hour mark.
The goal seemed to inject the much-needed effect into the Malawians, who immediately took charge of the midfield battle with some slick movements in the middle of the park, where Robert N’gambi and Noel Mkandawire proved a thorn in the flesh of the hosts.
Namibia conceded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty box and Douglas Chirambo let fly with a harmless looking shot past the bemused Namibian wall, beating the flatfooted Mbaha for goal number two with three minutes left on the clock before the changeover.
A clearly irritated Namibian coach Arie Schans hauled off debutant defender Dylan Mieze and striker Tara Katupose, and introduced Chris Katjiukua and Jerome Louis in a desperate effort to score some face-saving goals.
The move almost paid dividends with Louis troubling the Malawian defence with some darting runs down the right wing, but his co strikers failed to react to his cleverly executed deliveries into inviting positions.
Pint-sized midfield-cum-striker Muna Katupose, probably Namibia’s best player on the night, played a neat one/two with Bradley “Asprilla” Wermann and the final pass landed in the path of Tulongeni Tuyeni.
The Civics’ midfielder needed no second invitation and let loose with a thunderous grass cutter that landed neatly in the bottom right hand corner of the net, beating the experienced Swadick Sanudi hands down in the Malawian goal to half the deficit – eight minutes into the second half.
Namibia threw more bodies upfront in search of the elusive equalizer, but it was the visitors who regained their two-goal lead when Hellings Mwakasungula leaped above a hesitant Namibian defence to head the ball past the hapless Mbaha from another set piece.
With the writing already on the wall – Schans demonstrated his annoyance with his number one goal tender in no uncertain terms by replacing him with African Stars and National Under-20 goalkeeper Maxmillian Mbaeva.
The lanky youngster quickly established himself as the instant Messiah of the out-of-sorts Brave Warriors – saving the nation from further blushes when he bravely dived at the feet of Mwafulirwa to deny the Ajax Cape Town’s striker a sure goal after the Malawian had intercepted a poor back header from debutant defender Steven Goaxab.
Minutes later, Mbaeva was called into action again when he made a point blank save from Nyondo, in the dying minutes of the game.
At the other end, substitute Jerome Louis turned his marker with some great skill and placed a neat square ball across the face of the Malawian goalmouth but his co-strikers reacted slowly – allowing the ball to go into touch.
The Namibian bench brought on SKW’s mercurial midfielder Marco van Wyk and Orlando Pirates prot??????’??