By James Mwala.
The streets of Malawi were all filled last night, as empty as the Kamuzu Stadium was however in Blantyre, where the national football team broke an 11 year jinx to make it for the finals for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The team faced Uganda, with the hosts needed a win while the visitors only sought a point to join Burkina Faso as qualifying sides from Group B.
The Ugandan cranes headed into this match, at the back of a barren draw against Burkina Faso while the Flames added a lifeline to the campaign following a 1 nil win over South Sudan, a bottom logged side in the group.
In the first leg, Uganda beat Malawi 2 nil, and that was the leverage held aside from sitting over 30 places above Malawi on Fifa rankings.
In the 15th minutes, South African based Richard Mbulu towered higher to beat Denis Onyango with a thumping header for the Flames to lead until halftime and eventually after fulltime.
Flames Coach Meke Mwase had to recall some veterans, Limbikani Mzava and Gerard Phiri Jnr, both playing in South Africa while lethal forward Gabadihno Mhango was not in the squad having accumulated two back to back yellow cards.
The visibly clear efforts by Onyango, and Emmanuel Okwi failed to cancel out the Malawi goal, with the posts to the rescue twice in similar fashion for the home side.
The writing was on the wall for the Flames who last headed for the continental showpiece in 2010 and have now made just a third cut for the tournament in history.
Eventual group winners, Burkina Faso finished with 12 points following a 1 nil win over South Sudan who finished bottom with just three points.
Malawi came second with 10 points while Uganda finished with 8 points.