Coach Francisco Conde will be patting himself on the back after his three substitutions ensured a 3-2 historic TotalEnergies African Nations Chamiopnship (CHAN) win for Mozambique over former champions Libya on Tuesday.
Three goals by three substitutes in the last 15 minutes helped the Mambas to come back from a goal down at half-time to seal the country’s first ever CHAN victory at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria.
Goals by Melque Melito Alexandre, Feliciano Joao Jone and Pachoio Lau Ha King helped the Southern Africans to recover from a goal down to overpower the hardworking Libyans in the Group A match in Algiers.
The Mambas found themselves behind in the 23rd minute following an own goal by defender Francisco Muchanga.
The powerful centre-back put the ball in his own net after connecting to a Muayid Judour cross from the left that he initially wanted to clear but instead handed Libya the lead in dramatic fashion.
Despite falling behind before the half hour mark, Mozambique kept pushing and looking for that equalizer with captain Isaac Decarvalho beating the Libyan defense to shoot at goal at a very tight angle but he was denied by Libyan goalkeeper Muad Allafi.
Mohamed Abdussalam made a quick run on the left side to send a flying pass to Ali Abu Arqoub whose header went wide as the Libyans continued piling pressure on Mozambique.
Three minutes into the second half, Libya continued from where they had stopped with forward Saleh Taher Saeid beating the Mozambican defense to put the ball between Mozambican goalkeeper Victor Guambe’s legs who quickly rushed to grab it before it crossed the line.
Conde made three substitutions that completely changed the game with Melque Melito Alexandre finding the equalizer in the 74th minute to bring back hope in the Mambas camp on a very difficult night for the Southern Africans.
In the space of 10 minutes, Mozambique took the lead adding two more goals in the 80th and 84th minutes courtesy of two other substitutes in Feliciano Joao Jone and Pachoio Lau Ha King respectively to send Conde’s side into early celebrations.
Their celebrations were brought to a standstill when Libyan substitute Anias Saltou pulled one back for the Mediterranean Knights in the 93rd minute after bouncing on a poor kick from Guambe to find the back of the net and give his side some hope.
However, Mozambique held on and bagged their first ever victory at the CHAN tournament.
Their only other participation was in 2014 in South Africa where they lost all their three group stage games and were consequently eliminated.