Afcon2021: Waiting game as Malawi hold Senegal

Sadio Mane vs Sanudi

They may have been the favourites considering that they are Africa's number one ranked team, but Malawi national football team held Senegal to a goalless draw in the third match of the Africa Cup of Nations at Bafoussam Stadium in Cameroon.

Straight from the 2-1 win against Zimbabwe, the Head of Technical Panel, Mario Marinica made three changes, handing goalkeeper Charles Thom a debut appearance in place of Ernerst Kakhobwe, who is suspected to have been attacked by Malaria, while Lawrence Chaziya maintained the place of Limbikani Mzava, and Miciuy Mhone substituting Richard Mbulu. 

A lot of positives can be drawn from the match, particularly from Thom's brilliant saves that earned him the Man-of-the-Match accolade.

Khuda Muyaba's strike at the 16th minute cemented Malawi's hopes of getting a win at the end of the day, but it went off target.

Gomezgani Chirwa single-handedly beat the Senegalese from the Centre to the left side of the goal, only for his shot to be saved by Mendy for a corner kick.

As if that was not enough, Gabadinho Mhango's freekick went off target thanks to the deflection by the Senegalese defenders from the wall. 

By half time, the Lions of Teranga dominated dominance in terms of percentages, but Malawi defenders deserve pats on the backs for stopping their crucial chances including that of Sadio Mane in the early minutes. 

Marinica had no choice, but to bolster the squad in the second half, brining in Yamikani Chester for Micium Mhone, and Richard Mbulu for Khuda Muyaba at 67 minutes. 

At 76 minutes, Malawi's golden chance arrived, when Gomezgani Chirwa was brought down close to the goalkeeper's box by two defenders in a manner that everyone was convinced could be a penalty for the Flames, but referee called for a Video Assistant Review whose outcome was disappointing, not even a free-kick awarded.

Later Gerald Phiri junior was introduced for Francisco Madinga, while Chimwemwe Idana was replaced by Robin Ngalande.

In Yaounde, Zimbabwe was also playing Guinea and won 2-1.

The outcome takes Senegal to the top of the Group B table with five points, followed by Guinea at four.

Malawi finished third also with four points because of the head-to-head loss against Guinea, and Zimbabwe finished bottom with three points. 

The Flames will have to wait for the conclusion of the group matches to know whether or not they have sailed through to the knockout phase as one of the four best third-placed finishers.