Mauritius edged out Malawi 1-0 in their first 2018 COSAFA Cup Group B match at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa on Monday night.
The win takes the Dodos to second place on the Group B standings, while the Flames are placed fourth on the table.
The Dodos were the better side in the opening stages of the game and Malawi goalkeeper Brighton Munthali was forced into a double save four minutes into match.
However, Munthali, who is on the books of Malawi side Sliver Strikers, was beaten in the 15th minute following a quick move by the Dodos.
Damien Ballsson hit the back of the net with a powerful low shot which beat Munthali hands down to make it 1-0 to Mauritius after the Flames defence was exposed.
The Dodos had a chance to double their lead in the 22nd minute, but Giano Kee’s low shot went wide of the target without troubling Munthali in Malawi goal.
The Flames then took control of the game and they were awarded a free-kick in promising area after Richard Mbulu was fouled near the Dodos box just after the half-hour mark.
Precious Sambani then stepped up and unleashed a powerful shot which was deflected out by the wall as the Flames pushed for the equalizing goal.
Malawi piled pressure on the Mauritius defence with the half-time break and James Carsene, who is a 25-year-old shot-stopper, became a busy man.
Carsene was beaten in the 43rd minute by Peter Cholopi’s header, but the all hit the crossbar with the Mauritius keeper rooted to the ground.
The shot-stopper then produced a fine save to deny Malawi marksman Robin Ngalande, who was looking to score with a left-footed shot on the stroke of half-time.
Mauritius were able to contain Malawi until the match referee blew the half-time whistle and they were leading 1-0 at the interval.
A second-half which was dominated by Malawi followed with Mauritius happy to sit back and launch quick counter-attacks with Jean Jubeau leading their attack.
Sambani had chance to break the deadlock in the 52nd minute, but the Flames left-back fired wide of the target with Mauritius keeper Caserne looking on.
Experienced striker Chiukepo Msowoya, who has turned out for South African giants Orlando Pirates, was introduced by the Flames as they searched for the equalizing goal.
His team-mate Ngalande has a glorious opportunity to score in the 78th minute, but he placed his effort wide of the target with Caserne rooted to the ground.
The Baroka FC striker managed to keep his shot on target three minutes later and Caserne pulled off a great diving save to deny the Flames striker.
The momentum was Malawi in the dying minutes of the game as Msowoya’s effort was cleared off the goal-line by Mauritius defender Jonathan Speville.
Mauritius then stood firm at the back in the closing stages of the game and ultimately, they emerged 1-0 winners over Malawi.
Mauritius (1) 1 (Balisson 15’)
Malawi (0) 0
Mauritius: Caserne, Jean, Speville, Rasolofonirina, Langue (Harel 79’), Jocelyn, Sophie, Kee (Ferre 67’), Balisson, Augustin, Jubeau.
Malawi: Munthali, Sambani, Lanjesi, Namwera (Msowoya 67’), Mbulu, Sailesi (Phiri 83’), Ngalande, Cholopi, Banda, Chirwa.