Namibia’s chances of qualifying for next year’s FIFA World Cup were dealt a serious blow when they lost 1-0 to Malawi in Windhoek on Saturday.
Substitute Gabadhini Mhango scored the winning goal midway through the second half when he fired home a cross by Fisher Kondowe after a quick counterattack.
It was a poor performance by the Brave Warriors who looked disjointed and out of sorts, while chances were few and far between.
Namibia started on the ascendancy but Malawi had the first real chance when Fisher Kondowe beat Jamu Ngatjizeko in the box but shot narrowly wide.
Namibia created a few chances with Tangeni Shipahu, Manfred Starke and Lazarus Kaimbi putting in some good runs but the finishing was poor.
Henrico Botes was tightly marked by James Sangala and allowed little room to move, while Bester and Starke got shots in that did not trouble Malawi’s defence.
At the back, Namibia were very shaky with Ronald Ketjijere clearing the ball after a defensive mixup on 28 minutes, while Jamu Ngatjizeko cleared a shot off the line just before halftime.
Namibia’s play from set pieces was also disappointing as Kaimbi, Starke and Denzil Haoseb all blasted wide from freekicks.
In the second half Petrius Shitembi and Willy Stephanus came on as substitutes and although they opened up the game a bit, they could not break through Malawi’s tight defence.
The winning goal came on 69 minutes when Malawi went on a quick counterattack that split Namibia’s defence open and Mhango steered home Kondowe’s cross from the right wing.
In the final stages Namibian coach Bernard Kaanjuka brought on Sadney Urikhob for Tangeni Shipahu but it made little difference as Malawi held on for a crucial away victory.
The victory puts Malawi joint top of the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Africa Group F with Nigeria on five points while Namibia is third on three points and Kenya last on two points.
In the day’s other Group F encounter Kenya nearly pulled off a dramatic victory away to Nigeria after Francis Kahata gave them a shock lead with a great freekick on 36 minutes.
But Nnamdi Oduamadi spared Nigeria’s blushes as he got the equaliser three minutes into injury time.
Malawi’s coach Eddington Ng’onamo missed the match against Namibia after his son passed away the previous day and assistant coach Patrick Mabedi said they dedicated the victory to him.
“Our head coach just lost his son yesterday which is sad and every player dedicated this match to our head coach, Eddington Ng’onamo,” he said.
Mabedi said they came with a game plan to beat Namibia.
“We had a game plan, we know Namibia, we know that they are always a good team and we just need to be patient. We knew they would come at us and by coming out, there would be openings so we would get a chance to capitalise,” he said.
Namibian coach Bernard Kaanjuka refused to speak to the media after the match, and accused them of biased reporting.
“I will not speak to you, you are writing nonsense about me. I will only speak to the NBC,” he told a group of reporters who had waited 15 minutes for him to emerge from Namibia’s changing room.
NBC’s senior producer Kavee Vezemburuka later said that Kaanjuka had blamed his players for not following his instructions and for changing their positions during the match.