TAIFA Stars produced an impressive second half performance, to defeat Malawi 2-0 in international friendly match at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Captain John Bocco and right-back Israel Patrick netted in the last segment of the game, to earn Kim Poulsen's charges morale booster victory, as they prepare for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers set to begin in September this year.
Stars used the friendly tie as part and parcel to warm up for the big task coming ahead, in which they are packed in group J together with DR Congo, Benin and Madagascar.
After a barren first half, goals started to come in the 67th minute, when substitute Kibu Denis unlocked ‘The Flames' defence, when he provided a good pass for Bocco to put the ball into the back of the net.
In the 74th minute, Patrick put his name on the Star's score sheet for the first time in his career, as he scored a beautiful set piece, which went straight into Malawi's net leaving goalkeeper Munthali Brighton flat footed.
The foul was orchestrated by Kibu, who was fouled just outside the box as he was on the move towards the visitors' goal and Patrick, who was making his maiden appearance for Stars stepped up to beat the wall and keeper.
It was the classic encounter worth watching with each side making several attempts to put the ball behind the net but as the opening 45 minutes elapsed, neither of them had an advantage.
The hosts created their first opportunity in the 5th minute of the opening half, when Yusuf Mhilu headed off the target from a well weighted Shomari Kapombe’s pass.
As tension mounted, another goal scoring chance for the hosts went begging in the 9th minute and this time around, it was Nickson Kibabage, who squandered the golden opportunity.
However, the visitors hardly tested Aishi Manula in the opening 10 minutes as they could not manage to break the tight Taifa Stars defense as they played most of their balls in the midfield section.
Star's coach Kim Poulsen adjusted his starting line-up at the interval, when he brought on board Mzamiru Yassin for Mudathir Yahya aiming to cement the midfield section.
His introduction was timely as he was able to drive the team forward a quality which lacked in the opening segment and he was also good in providing defensive roles when his side missed ball possession Bocco had a bicycle kick in the 55th minute but it was too easy for ‘Flames’ goalkeeper Brighton, who coolly collected the ball into his arms.
Another substitution for the home team was in the 60th minute, when the impressive Kibu Denis was introduced for Salum Abubakar, aiming to refresh the striking force as time was running out to change digits on the scoreboard.
His impact was seen seven minutes later, when he provided the best assist picking his skipper Bocco in the box, who easily pumped in the leading goal for his team.
The Mbeya City attacker was making his debut in the national team colours with his adorable physique and on several instances he succeeded to trouble Malawi defenders.
In general, the match gave Poulsen what he really wanted to see from his charges and they needed to play more friendly matches to keep the team balanced.