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Former Orlando Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango received a rousing reception in Durban though his Malawi national side were shown flames by Lesotho with a 2-1 defeat in their Cosafa Cup Group B clash at King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday evening.
An own goal by Sankhani Mkandawire of Malawi and a goal by Katleho Makateng gave Lesotho a 2-0 lead, while a late strike by Chiukepo Msowoya was a consolation for the Flames.
Mhango, who went through a tough period at Pirates last season, created rare excitement for the hundreds of fans who attended the Southern African championship matches in Umlazi on day two of the tournament.
His struggles saw the hard-running, at times combustible Malawian shipped to Durban where he has signed a contract with AmaZulu. The supporters clapped and screamed the striker’s name when he came out for a prematch warm-up session and before kickoff.
While Malawi had familiar faces to SA football in Mhango, another former Pirates man Msowoya and Khuda Myaba of Polokwane City, Lesotho had Golden Arrows' Sera Motebang in their ranks.
The backing from the fans couldn’t help Malawi beat less fashionable but more determined Lesotho.
Malawi were the dominant force for most of the clash but always struggled to penetrate the stubborn Lesotho defence and when they did goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane seemed unbeatable on the night.
The goalie produced at least five impressive saves including from two one-on-ones.
Lesotho’s first strike was came via Mkandawire's own goal that was also the result of a stupid error by Malawi goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe after 14 minutes.
Kakhobwe went out to try to clear a ball and he fumbled it and gave Makateng a chance to send the ball across the goalmouth only for Mkandawire to put it in his own net.
Malawi continued their pressing game in the second half and did everything right except put the ball in the back of the net.
Makateng scored Lesotho’s second goal on 56 minutes to make it hard for the Flames to stage a comeback.
Seeing things weren’t working out, Malawi coach Marian Marinica brought in veteran striker Msowoya and he scored with two minutes left on the clock. But it was too little too late.
Earlier on the day, Eswatini made light of the work of Mauritius as they defeated the islanders 3-0.