Malawi’s under-17 national football team will have no reason to go hungry at the 2020 Cosafa Youth Championship in South Africa as a tasty braai of young Zebras is on the menu this afternoon.
The young Flames start their Group B campaign at the regional showpiece with a tie against Botswana with the hope of a making a statement.
After a disappointing campaign on home soil last year, Malawi will be hoping to put up a better performance in this year’s competition.
There is a lot at stake in this year’s competition as teams will be battling for two slots at the 2020 African Youth Championship in Morocco.
Malawi have qualified for the continental showpiece just once when Algeria hosted in 2009 from where the young Flames made it to the Fifa U-17 World Cup in Nigeria the following year.
Malawi have dominated fixtures against Botswana at this age group having won in all their three meetings since 2001.
The young Flames beat the young Zebras 2-0 in 2001 before registering 6-1 and 2-0 victories in 2002 and 2017, respectively.
Msakakuona has assembled a squad comprising debutants only with none making it from last year’s squad.
Malawi had their first training session on Wednesday and Msakakuona was impressed with morale in camp.
“We know the importance of winning all our games but we do not want to give the youngsters too much pressure.” Msakakuona said.
Msakakuona has goalkeepers Alex Dzimbiri, Justice Mhone and Caleb Chirwa in his 20-member squad with Edward Phiri, Innocent Sikwese and Yankho Chitembeya scheduled to feature as defenders.
In midfield, the former Blue Eagles mentor has James Chomba, Renald Mapulanga and Precious Chamangwana while the frontline has Enock Dumuza, Islam Mayiwa, Chifundo Mphasi, Samson Zakeyu and Timothy Nyasulu.
The junior Flames will face Zambia on Sunday before wrapping up the group stages against Comoros on November 25 at Isaac Wolfson Stadium.
Local football analyst George Chiusiwa expressed optimism that Msakakuona’s charges would do well.
“We should not give the youngsters too much pressure but I have faith in the team,” Chiusiwa said.
Eight teams are taking part in the competition which will see the top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals.
Group A comprises South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and eSwatini.
Last year, Malawi exited in the group stages when the tournament was hosted at Mpira Stadium in Blantyre.