The talented Malawians, debutants and every inch the outsiders at these U-17 world finals, did themselves proud with a spirited performance in a losing effort against UAE. While the Africans were the better side in the first period, the Emirates roared back in the second, scoring twice to seal the deal on a 2-0 result and move to the top of Kano's Group E.
Malawi dominated the first half of their first-ever match at a FIFA competition, hitting the woodwork twice through Bruno Milanzi in the 5th minute and Tonhy Chitsulo after 33 minutes.
However, the talented Africans wilted in the heat in the second half and were unable to keep up the pace and power they showed at the outset. UAE, for their part, upped the tempo and took the fight to their opponents. Just three minutes into the half, Ali Murad hit the post for the Asians and shortly after, in the 63rd minute, they carved out their inevitable opener, captain Marwan Al Saffar curling home from a well-taken free-kick.
UAE kept up the pressure against the Malawians, reduced to ten men after Kodwani Lefeyo saw his second yellow, and were rewarded with a second goal eight minutes from time. Mohammad Sebil took advantage of the advanced - and previously outstanding - Malawian goalkeeper Cuthbert Seengwa to hit a fabulous long-range goal.
Malawi's creditable performance was marred by another late red card to Gastin Simkonda. The side will next take on North American powers the USA. UAE - temporarily top of the section - meet mighty Europeans Spain in their next test.