After a perfect start against Comoros Islands on Wednesday, Malawi Under-20 national football team is hoping to claim maximum points when facing Botswana in the ongoing Cosafa Youth Championship at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia today.
The Junior Flames started the Group A campaign with a 4-0 thumping of Comoros at the same venue to keep their semifinal dream alive.
A win for the Junior Flames in today’s lunch-hour kick-off would boost their chances of qualifying for the semifinals of the competition for the first time in eight years.
Malawi are second in Group A with three points from one game at par with Zambia but the hosts have a better goal difference after beating the Young Zebras 5-0 in the opening match on Wednesday.
The last time the Junior Flames and Young Zebras met was in 2011 but Malawi lost in the third-place play–off when the tournament was hosted in Botswana.
Junior Flames coach Peter Mponda is likely to maintain most of the players that featured against Comoros.
“The win against Comoros gave the boys some confidence. We will play the second game without pressure and we believe the boys will play with freedom. If we get seven points, we can qualify for the semifinals,” Mponda said after the win against Comoros.
Upfront, he is likely to keep faith in Wisdom Mpinganjira and hat-trick hero Patrick Mwaungulu whereas Francisco Madinga Junior, Chikondi Kamanga, Lanjesi Nkhoma and Charles Nkhoma will be in the midfield.
Goalkeeper Emmanuel Kanthiti will keep his place whereas Hadji Wali, Innocent Shema, Believe June and Henry Chiwaya will provide the much needed shield to him.
Young Zebras coach Pio Paul said his charges would bounce back against Malawi following their loss.
Eight years have gone for the Junior Flames without reaching the semifinal and last achieved that feat in 2011 but lost 4-2 to Angola.
The Junior Flames have never won the Cosafa Under-20 championship since its inception but reached the final in 2003 before losing to Zambia.
Winner in each group will advance to the semifinals of the competition and they will be joined by overall best runner-up.