Flavio and Manucho propel hosts
© AFP

Angola avoided another Mali-style collapse to beat Malawi 2-0 and move to the top of CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group A on Thursday.

The 2010 hosts put the trauma of seeing a four-goal lead evaporate in the last quarter of an hour of their opening game behind them with goals from Flavio and Manucho. The result put Angola on four points with Malawi and Algeria on three and Mali, beaten 1-0 by the Algerians in Thursday's first match, propping up the table on one point.

"The team put in a fantastic effort," said Angola coach Manuel Jose. "We had a lot of injuries, I had to take Gilberto off early. If he had stayed on perhaps we could have closed down the game sooner. Then there was Flavio and Zuela, who had a problem in the last minute. But they are the sort of sacrifices you have to make if you want to be champions. I believed before the game we could win it. The players were free in their minds, their confidence was very high."

Angola captain Carlos 'Kali' Alonso added: "We showed our strength. We felt more secure and our morale was high."

Minnows Malawi, in only their second appearance in the competition, went into this tie knowing a win would see them become the first of the 15 Nations Cup contenders to secure a last eight ticket. Both sides made a change apiece, Angola replacing injured Dede with Djalma, and Malawi's Russell Mwafulirwa ceding his place to Victor Nyirenda.

The team put in a fantastic effort. We had a lot of injuries, I had to take Gilberto off early. If he had stayed on perhaps we could have closed down the game sooner. Then there was Flavio and Zuela, who had a problem in the last minute.
Angola coach Manuel Jose


Angola, with President Eduardo Jose dos Santos, sporting the team's scarf, among the near 50,000 capacity crowd, burst out of the blocks. They almost took a lightning lead when Manucho volleyed Flavio's cross only for Malawi keeper Swadick Sanudi to smother the ball.

Djalma then squandered a chance when his shot flew over the bar as the Black Antelopes had the Flames of Malawi on the rack. On 33 minutes Djalma set up former Manchester United and Hull City striker Manucho whose fierce effort was only stopped by a superb save from Sanudi.

Shortly after Angolan coach Manuel Jose was forced into an unscripted change of personnel when Jamuana came on for injured Al-Ahly midfielder Gilberto.

There was a touch of artistry from Malawi's Peter Wadaba in the 40th minute when, with his back to the Angola goal, he flicked the ball with his heel at keeper Lama whose reflex save was equal to the threat. Then in first half injury time Flavio's corner found Manucho in the box but the mohican-haired striker headed over the woodwork from close range.

The second half was only three minutes old when Angola got the goal they deserved. Djalma, enjoying a bright game, raced down the left in a move started by Mabina, and lofted the ball into the box for a charging Flavio, the striker based in Saudi Arabia, heading past Sanudi.

The president, tapping his white trainers excitedly, beamed. His smile was even wider when, on 54 minutes, Manucho beat off Malawi skipper Peter Mponda to score from close range.

Mali had defied greater odds to grab a point last Sunday but Angola weren't about to be caught napping twice. The one sting in the tail for coach Manuel Jose was the sight of a raft of his troops hit the deck with various degrees of injury - Flavio had to be stretchered off as the hour struck.

Group A's final batch of games are on Tuesday when Angola play Algeria in Luanda and Malawi take on Mali in Cabinda.