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Junior Flames aim at maintaining 100 per cent record

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They may have many things in common, like the kwacha currency, similar languages, same year of gaining independence and similar surnames.

But when it comes to football, Malawi and Zambia are sworn rivals.

The age-old rivalry will be rekindled this afternoon when the two countries’ Under 17 teams meet in the semifinal of the ongoing Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius.

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The Junior Flames’ path to the last four has been an enviable 100 per cent record of three wins out of three with no goal conceded.

The Malawians have, in the process of qualifying for this stage, scored nine goals and are looking even sharper ahead of the crunch tie.

They kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 win over hapless Botswana, before thumping overconfident Zimbabwe 5-0.

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The two straight wins were good enough to buy Malawi a ticket to the semis, but De Klerk Msakakuona and his boys showed their zeal to end their group stage games with a clean sheet.

The lads ran riot against hosts Mauritius on Wednesday and registered a 2-0 victory, courtesy of Patrick Mwaungulu in the 16th minute and Willard Tathedwa in the 73rd minute to finish top of Group A.

Last year, the Junior Flames won bronze at the same competition and Msakakuona believes that he has a squad that can do better this year.

He said his boys are not pressing the panic button at the thought of meeting the Young Chipolopolo as they already have a game plan.

“Tactically, the boys are good. They are able to attack and score. And being the only team that has not conceded a goal at the competition gives us hope that we are a better side than Zambia,” Msakakuona said.

Players like Chinsinsi Maonga, Tathedwa, Mwaungulu and Frank Titani have been instrumental to the team’s success and are likely to be the centre of attraction.

However, the Zambians should not be taken lightly as they are also a high scoring team, having beaten Madagascar 7-1 in their opening fixture.

The junior Flames last won the Cup in 2001 as hosts and it is yet to be seen if they can win it on foreign soil.

The other semifinal match is between Mauritius and South Africa.

Mauritius finished second to Malawi in Group A while South Africa won Group B, with Zambia trailing them.

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