Griffin Young Stars finally exorcised demons that were haunting them at the national stage when they were crowned FMB Under-20 Football League national champions at Mulanje Park on Saturday.
Griffin made their intent clear when they knocked out holders, Silver Youth, 3-2, in the semi-final on Friday to date, in the final, Sanwecka of the Northern Region.
It was the third time of asking for Griffin at the national stage and they responded perfectly.
Paul Phiri, Eric Kazembe and Livity Chabwera scored for Griffin whereas Ronald Pangani struck a brace for Silver.
Sanwecka booked their final ticket when they defeated the hosting district’s side, Mathambi, 5-3 on post-match penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time on Friday.
During the final, Griffin led the first-half through a Phiri strike.
Griffin increased the lead midway through the second-half when Yaphet Mangani headed home a Peter Banda corner-kick.
The champions, who finished the game with 10 players after one of their defenders was red carded 10 minutes to full time, put the game beyond Sanwecka with Banda’s goal.
The champions’ Coach, Griffin Saenda Junior, said his charges executed his instructions perfectly.
“I told them to be composed because it was now or never. We got the job done following good preparations. We have also finished the calendar year undefeated,” said the coach after his team finished the entire season undefeated in 35 games.
Before the final, FMB Head of Marketing, Sylvia Mataka, said they would increase sponsorship package from K24 million to K30 million to cement their relationship with youth football dating back to 2009.
Mataka, who was accompanied by the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Fernando Rodriguez, said the competition has grown from 44 participating teams to 144 after extending its catchment area to 12 districts.
“In eight years, we have been sponsoring the league, we have produced players that are playing at various levels, including top Super League sides, some are professionals and we have representation at the national [team] level,” she said.
National Youth Football Association Chairperson, Chimango Munthali, applauded the bank for the sponsorship.
“We have structures that will help us produce complete players because we will be tracking them from under-14, 15, 17 and 20,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports Board Chairperson, James Chuma, underscored the importance of investing in youth in sports whereas Football Association of Malawi First-Vice President, James Mwenda, said the association was impressed with the quality of players the league has produced.
Malawi national football team Coach, Ronny van Geneugden, also witnessed the final.
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