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Last chance

Malawi Under-20 in must-win match against Namibia

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Patrick Mabedi

Malawi Under-20 National Football Team has a chance to redeem its battered pride when it faces Namibia in the two sides’ last Group C match at the ongoing Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Cosafa qualifiers at Somhlolo Stadium in Lobamba, eSwatini, today.

The young Flames are coming from a 2-0 loss to Comoros and need to win the match to have any slim chances of qualifying for the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in 11 years.

Currently third with three points from two matches and three points behind leaders Comoros, Malawi desperately need all the three points in today’s match.

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Possibilities of the young Flames being granted their wishes are quite high as they are meeting a team that has lost its two opening matches.

Namibia lost their opening match 1-0 to Comoros before enduring a 5-2 thumping at the hands of South Africa in the second.

This means the Namibians will not have much to play for as they are out of contention.

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However, the young Flames need to exercise caution as their opponents might want to restore pride and finish with a win.

On the other hand, Malawi must also pray that South Africa lose or draw against Comoros this afternoon so that they qualify as best runners-up.

As of Tuesday, Malawi were in the running for the best runners-up slot alongside South Africa, Botswana, eSwatini, Angola and Lesotho.

Coach Patrick Mabedi admitted that qualification is no longer in their hands.

“We have to do ourselves a favour in this match. Not everything is lost. We just have to focus. Anything can happen,’’ Mabedi said.

He will likely ring changes to the starting line-up that lost 2-0 to Comoros on Monday.

However, goalkeeper Austin Chirambo is likely to keep his place, with defender Chimwemwe Nkhoma missing the match due to suspension after picking a red card against Comoros.

The players carrying Malawi’s hopes this afternoon are Chikumbutso Salima, Chifundo Mphasi, Vincent Mkandawire and Lloyd Aaron.

Former Malawi National Football Team attacker Sherry Msuku said Malawi made life difficult for themselves with the loss to Comoros.

“We are in a tricky situation. Honestly, our chances are very slim and we need a miracle to qualify,’’ Msuku said.

The two teams also met during the 2020 edition in South Africa, with Namibia beat Malawi 2-1.

Probably, Malawi will be looking for revenge against Namibia whose coach James Britz will be hoping that his boys will continue with their dominance.

Some of the players that Britz will rely on are Lawrence Doeseb, Sakala Samuel, Romeo Amon and Gustaf Kaeka.

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