Thursday, January 14, 2010

Angola manage to contain Malawi Flames

Manucho (left) and Flavio Angola's two goal scorers celebrate one of their goals. Pic by AFP.

Africa Cup of Nations hosts Angola bounced back in style after their disappointing opening draw to overwhelm Malawi with a 2-0 victory in Luanda.

Goals by strikers Manucho and Flavio early in the second half were enough to give Angola their first win in Group A, following Sunday's 4-4 draw with Mali.

Angola bossed the game and limited Malawi to just a couple of chances.
But the victory may have come at a cost as goalscorer Flavio and winger Gilberto both came off with injuries.

The result still puts them top of Group A, however, and sets up a showdown with Algeria, whose own hopes of qualifying were revived by an earlier 1-0 victory against Mali.

The Angolans played with a high tempo from the start and created plenty of opportunities in the first half with several penetrating crosses, but no decisive final touch.

Flavio and Manucho linked up well in the opening half hour, during which their team enjoyed most of the possession and chances.

In the seventh minute, Flavio found Manucho with a deft cross and the big striker hit a good volley straight at Malawi goalkeeper Swanick Sanudi who very nearly palmed it into his own net.

And Manucho should have opened the scoring on 33 minutes when he was put clean through only to see his near-post shot stopped by a fine save from Sanudi.

Malawi had to wait until the 34th minute for their first chance, when left back Moses Chavula broke forward on the left, but striker Esau Kanyenda couldn't get any purchase on his effort in the six yard box.

Minutes later, the Flames had their best opportunity, when Chavula got to the byline to cross to Peter Wadabwa, who flicked a deft backheel goalwards that was well gathered by Angolan keeper Carlos Fernandes.

In first-half injury time, winger Stelvio whipped in a beautifully-weighted cross for Flavio from the right who headed narrowly over.

The pressure inevitably told within the first three minutes of the second half, however, from a beautifully-worked Angolan move.

The influential Djalma overlapped cleverly on the left, swapped to his right foot and whipped in another stinging cross for Flavio to power a header home for his third goal of the tournament.

The opener raised the noise to fever pitch inside the 11 November Stadium, and five minutes later Manucho almost took the roof off the brand-new arena when he doubled the lead.

The Vallodolid striker punished sloppy defending by Peter Mponda by dispossessing the defender on the edge of the box to burst into the area and hammer past a rooted Sanudi.

But the high tempo took its toll on the home side as Flavio followed Gilberto to the sideline, as he was stretchered off with a suspected recurrence of a hamstring injury in the 60th minute.

The striker was replaced by crowd favourite and former Young African Player of the Year Mantorras, who received a huge ovation when he took the field.

And the 27-year-old nearly sent the home fans into raptures when he blazed narrowly over from a free kick minutes later.

Malawi struggled to find a way back into the game and had to wait until the 70th minute before they ventured properly into the Angolan box, with two unproductive corners.

The home side managed to close out the game this time, to the huge relief of their fans, who celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

One major concern for the organisers, however, will be the pitch, which continued to cut up and cause problems for both sides.

The 11 November Stadium is due to host one of the tournament's semi-finals and the final-BBC

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