Afflicted by deaths of citizens from a cholera outbreak and devastating cyclone, Malawians were looking for a reason to be cheerful when the Pharaohs of Egypt came to town to face the Flames in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

Hopes were high among Malawi football fans.

In five previous meetings that were played in Malawi between the two teams, the Egyptians managed only a single win which came back in July 1978 long before any of the Malawi players was born.

Flames coach Mario Marinica made five changes to the team that faced Egypt four days earlier bringing in Stain Davie, Yamikani Chester, Peter Banda, Alick Lungu, and Stanley Sanudi, who replaced Chikoti Chirwa, Micium Mhone, Francisco Madinga, Khuda Muyaba and Gomezgani Chirwa.

The Flames started brightly, but the visitors went ahead with their first foray into Malawi territory.

Soon one became two and then three with only 20 minutes played.

The final nail in the opening five minutes of the second half.

Tarek Hamed, Omar Marmoush, Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Sayed scored the goals for the visitors.

One fan summed up the anguish of many when he said: “We paid MK4,000 to get in. (It means) we have paid MK1,000 for every goal conceded.”

Malawi’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s AFCON are now all but over as they trail joint leaders Egypt and Guinea by six points.

The Flames have three points, same as Ethiopia while Egypt and Guinea lead the way with nine.

The two top teams who play each other in the next round of fixtures need just a point in their remaining two games to confirm their qualification at the expense of the bottom two.