Lesotho defeated fancied Malawi 2-1 in the Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup Group B match in South Africa on Wednesday evening.
Lesotho went ahead via an own goal from Sankhani Mkandawire who had the ball deflected on him following goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe’s spill of a save after poor Blessings Mpokera’s clearance in the 14th minute.
Lesotho opted to sit deep, close spaces and defend solidly while the Flames kept probing but lacked physical presence in the opposition box to make the crosses count.
The first hand ended with Chimwemwe Idana’s chip landing on roof of the net from a rebound.
Malawi coach Mario Marinica replaced Chikoti Chirwa for Peter Banda in an attacking change at break.
Lesotho continued to play in the same pattern in the second half with Malawi having all the possession but it was the Crocodiles who added the second goal.
Lesotho’s Katleho Makateng fired the ball past Malawi goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe after right-back Stanley Sanudi had failed to clear a ball in the 56th minute.
Substitute Chiukepo Msowoya replaced Stenie Davie and the Mukuru Wanderers striker made his presence felt when he met Peter Banda’s low cross to flick the ball past Lesotho goalkeeper into the net in the 87th minute.
The game ended with the Flames pushing for another goal but it was not to be.
Earlier at the same venue, Eswatini beat Mauritius 3-0 in an early kick-off.
Group stage games involve lowly ranked eight teams split into two groups.
The overall winner of each group will qualify for the quarterfinal stage to join seeded South Africa, Senegal, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia, among others.
The biggest tournament for teams in Southern Africa started on Tuesday when Angola saw off Comoros 3-1 whereas Botswana dispatched Seychelles 1-0 in group A clashes.
Lesotho: Tsepo Moerane, Motlomelo Mkwanazi, Basia Makepe, Lisema Lebokollane, Kopano Tseka, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng, Thabang Malane, Jane Thabantso, Rethabile Rasethuntsa, Thabo Mafatle
Malawi: Ernest Kakhobwe, Stanley Sanudi, Precious Sambani, Sankhani Mkandawire, Chikoti Chirwa (Peter Banda), Chimwemwe Idana, Stenie Davie (Chiukepo Msowoya), Gabadinho Mhango (Schumacher Kuwali), John Banda, Blessings Mpokera, Khuda Myaba (Patrick Mwaungulu).