Malawi and Guinea ended their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with an end-to-end 2-2 draw at the Bingu National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the game being an effective dead rubber fixture in Group D, the two nations provided a spectacle for the supporters in Lilongwe, with the likes of Robert Saizi, Aguibou Camara and Lawrence Chaziya grabbing the headlines.
The game commenced at a timid pace, with neither side taking any risks in going forward. However, Malawi gained the upper hand in the ball possession count early on.
Guinea attacked in sporadic moments and looked to catch Malawi on the break. However, the Flames looked assured in possession and warded off the Guinean attacks.
As the first real notable chance of the match, Malawi broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute as Saizi got his name on the scoresheet.
Following a swift transition move inside the Guinea area, Saizi latched on to Lanjesi Nkhoma's deflected shot inside the 18-yard-area before guiding the ball into the back of the net.
Malawi continued to create goal-scoring opportunities as the half progressed, which put Guinea under pressure for most of the first 45.
In an attempt to get back into the game, Guinea struggled to breach the Malawian defence and often fell short in the final third of the pitch.
The Flames ended the first half on a strong note while having ample opportunities to extend their lead before the whistle was blown.
Nonetheless, it was Saizi’s 23rd minute strike that separated the two teams at the break.
In complete contrast to the first half, Guinea looked lively during the opening exchanges of the second half. As they carved out chances, Malawi were reduced to defending their quarters early after the restart.
Guinea’s pressure paid off in the 56th minute as Aguibou Camara drew one back for his nation.
After making way inside the Malawi half, Camara found himself in space on the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a venomous left-footed shot that beat Clever Mkungula in goal.
The National Elephants then took the lead two minutes later, as Issiaga Sylla and Serhou Guirassy combined to give Guinea the advantage before the hour mark.
With Sylla dropping a curling cross into the area, Guirassy’s diving header hit the upright before crossing the goal line.
After Guinea’s quick attacking Flurry, Malawi struggled to get into the game and played on the backfoot for much of the second half.
Despite seeing much less of the ball, Malawi levelled matters in the 88th minute, as Lawrence Chaziya rose highest at a corner situation with a powerful header at the far post.
Malawi: (1) 1 (Saizi 23’ Chaziya 88’)
Guinea: (0) 2 (Camara 56, Guirassy 58’)
MALAWI: Munthali (Nkungula 46’), Sanudi, Chaziya, Chembezi, M’balaka (Madinga 81’), Saizi, Banda, Kaonga, Benega Aaron (P.Banda 87’), Nkhoma (Mpinganjira 64’), Mbulu (Kumwembe 64’)
GUINEA: Kone, Sylla, Camara, Diakhaby, Sylla, Diawara, M.Camara (Sow 46’), Kamano (Diaby 83’), Cisse (Moriba 46’), Sylla (S.Cisse), Guirassy (Bayo 72’)