Malawi under-20 national football team’s Cosafa Championship campaign is over after the team settled for a 1-1 draw against Uganda at a deserted Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe, Zambia.
This means Uganda have qualified for the semi-final on goal-aggregate.
The junior Flames could have snatched a late winner but striker Patrick Phiri messed up when scoring seemed easier than missing.
Malawi, who needed nothing short of a win, wound up their Group A matches with five points, at par with the leaders Uganda.
Malawi Coach Gerald Phiri’s reaction summed it all.
“It is so sad that we are out in this manner. We knew it was always going to be difficult as Uganda needed just a draw and we needed a win. It was even tougher as our opponents played a defensive game,” Phiri said.
His counterpart, Matthias Lule, was at his defiant best, saying: “The secret to this game was winning all second balls and that goal did it all for us.”
For a good part of the game, Uganda sat back and threw long balls upfront on the break.
The East African guests gave Malawi a scare when Stephen Mukwala of Uganda escaped his marker and shot past goalkeeper Charles Thom, only for Hajison Wali to whip the ball away to safety on the half-hour mark.
The junior Flames dominated in their own territory, knocking passes around but lacked penetration in the opponents’ half.
The first half ended goalless.
When play resumed, Lule pulled out Tubita for Mujahid Ogama, who nearly scored with a header minutes later.
Malawi right-back, Nickson Nyasulu, came off for Fransisco Madinga in an attacking move.
Against the run of play, Peter Banda squared the ball outside the 18-yard box for Madinga, who raced forward and fired an angled shot which Uganda keeper Ken Saidi could not stop in the 70th minute.
But Uganda equalised when Mukwala rose the highest to head the ball into the net in the 81st minute.
Malawi tried to salvage something from the game by introducing Ronald Pangani for Petro but it was too little, too late.
Malawi: Thom, Mwaila, C. Petro, Nyasulu (Madinga), Wali, Maganizo, Mkwate, E. Petro (Manyozo), Idana, Banda (Pangani), Phiri.
Uganda: Saidi, Geofrey, Mujuzi, Owori (Tumwesige), Tibita (Ogama), Mukwala, Kizza, Kuchi, Kasule, Matovu, Julius
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