Malawi stun World Cup bound Algeria at Nations Cup
Malawi provided the first major upset of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, defeating Algeria 3-0 at the Estadio 11 de Novembro in Luanda on Monday afternoon.
Goals from Russel Mwafulirwa and Elvis Kafoteka in the first half and a strike soon after the restart by Davie Banda proved to be the difference between the two sides on the day.
As a result of the victory, their first at the finals of an AFCON tournament, the Flames surge to the top of Group A on three points and the disappointing Algerians, who will represent the continent as one of six African teams in the FIFA World Cup later this year, will have an uphill battle if they are to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Algeria were the first to threaten, with striker Abdelkader Ghezzal warming Swadick Sanudi's palms with a drive from an acute angle as early as the fifth minute.
Three minutes later Russel Mwafulirwa gave notice of his abilities when he beat Samir Zaoui to a floated cross into the penalty area and powered a diving header just wide of the upright, with Faouzi Chaouchi scrambling to get across.
The Desert Foxes were struggling to hit their stride in the blazing sunshine, though they did fashion a good chance in the 16th minute when Karim Matmour tested Sanudi after a good interchange with Rafik Saifi.
But just a minute later the Flames stunned the North Africans by taking the lead. Esau Kanyenda exposed a gaping hole in the Algerian defence and did enough to draw Chaouchi off his line, only for the goalkeeper's attempted clearance to rebound off the attacker.
Mwafulirwa ran onto the loose ball and did well to fire it into the top corner of the unguarded net from a tight angle.
Algeria had a great chance to draw level midway through the first half but Saifi, after beating the offside trap, put too much on his lob over the advancing Sanudi and the ball looped over the crossbar.
But there was worse to come for the World Cup qualifiers. On 35 minutes the Southern Africans worked a corner short to left-back Moses Chavula, who provided a terrific cross into the penalty area that was powered home in style by defender Elvis Kafoteka to make it 2-0.
Two goals up at half time and it seemed as if life couldn't get better for the Malawians. And yet three minutes into the second half they extended their advantage.
Kafoteka's cross was dropped at the feet of Mwafulirwa by Chaouchi but the lanky striker saw his effort bounce back off the base of the post – midfielder Davie Banda latched onto the rebound and, after two bites at the cherry, hit the ball into the bottom corner of the net to give the Flames a scarcely believable three-goal lead.
Unfortunately the goal came at a price for Banda, who was caught on the right foot in the act of striking the ball home and took no further part in the game, replaced by Robert Ngambi.
Algeria began to flood forward in the hope of repeating Mali's heroics of the evening before, yet the Malawian defence stood firm.
They were helped, in part, by some awful finishing from the Algerians. The best example of this was a glaring headed chance for substitute Abdelmalik Ziaya in the 66th minute that, had it been converted, would have given the North Africans a glimmer of hope.
Malawi substitute Chiukepo Msowoya almost netted a fourth for his side when his quick reaction header from a Chaouchi fumble flashed just the wrong side of the upright.
Group A's second round of matches takes place in Luanda on Thursday, January 14.
Malawi will face the hosts Angola, while Algeria will look to bounce back against Mali.
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