By Erik Chiputula:
Malawi were sent out crashing of the FIFA World Cup by Cote d’Ivoire, losing 2-1 on Monday afternoon in Benin.
The Elephants took an early lead just after two minutes through Nicholas Pepe who robbed the ball from Peter Cholopi’s foot before beating goalkeeper Brighton Munthali with a powerful shot.
The game was equal after 17 minutes following a number of serious attacks from the Flames.
Chikoti Chirwa intercepted the ball on the middle and set up Khuda Myaba who sent a low shot from outside the box to put the game level.
Despite having the likes Jean Michael Seri, Nicholas Pepe, Wilfred Zaha and Eric Bailey who missed the first leg last Friday, Ivory Cost were unable to create chances as Malawi were well organized in midfield and solid at the back.
Malawi could have taken the lead after 37 minutes through Yamikani Chester who replaced Gabadinho Mhango but his shot from rebound was cleared on the line by defender Boly for a corner after the goalkeeper was already beaten.
In the second half both sides boasted their attacks as Max Gradel replaced Jean Michael Seri for the hosts while Flames introduced Duncan Nyoni and Gerald Phiri Jr. but still more the game failed to produce scoring opportunities.
Cote d’Ivoire scored the decisive goal from the spot after 66 minutes through Frank Kessie.
With the assistance from linesman Bernard Pool, Seychelles center referee Gerard Camille awarded Ivory Coast a penalty after Gervinho was brought down by Dennis Chembezi.
After the match, fans anger seemed to center around Kessie’s second half penalty.
Fans were furious after the footage shows that the incident happened just outside the box.
This was how fans reacted on Football Association of Malawi official Facebook page regarding the penalty decision.
First one said “That was a fake penalty I didn’t enjoy the game because of the referee. We were supposed to lose on merit not this way”
Second fan commented “Soft penalty”
Another fans replied “Good game guys… Ref spoiled the game”
And the last one expressed his disappointment by saying “Man of the Match ref”
The result has lifted Ivory Coast to the top of group table with 10 points ending Malawi hopes of making it to 2022 FIFA world cup finals in Quarter.
With two games to go, the race now is between Cameroon Cote d’Ivoire. Cameroon stays second with nine points where as Malawi comes third with three points, two above bottom placed Mozambique.