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Malawi still qualify for quarterfinals

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Malawi Under-20 National Football Team used to score for fun during training matches last month but now after two games at the Cosafa Youth Championship in South Africa, the Junior Flames are yet to find the back of the net in two games.

The Junior Flames missed four clear-cut chances before their Zambian counterparts punished them with a 3-0 hammering at Moruleng Stadium in South Africa’s North West Province on Sunday.

Zambia, who scored first through man-of-the-match Chrispine Sakulanda in the 22 nd minute, before Fashion Sakala added two more goals in the second half on a humid afternoon, proceed straight to the semifinals whereas Malawi will likely meet Mozambique in a quarterfinal play-off on December 13 at the same venue.

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It is not about the absence of key attacker Peter Banda, who is injured. The Malawians just freeze when facing the goal.

Captain Mike Mkwate had the chances to score and so was the case with Frank Chizuze and Abel Mwakilama but the boys are just too nervous and inexperienced.

As usual, Malawi started the game so promisingly. The Junior Flames’ striker Mwakilama played a delightful ball across Zambia’s goal mouth but right back Mphatso Galeta arrived in the box, stepped on the ball and fell on his own as if he were hit by a train.

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The crowd could not believe it. Malawi Coach Gerald Phiri could not believe it either. This was in the third minute.

In the 20th minute, Malawi were punished as Sakulanda curled the ball to the top far corner, beating diving goalkeeper Christopher Mikuwa.

The Malawi keeper prevented Daka from adding two more goals and soon, Phiri substituted Galeta for Chizuze.

In the second half, the game followed a similar pattern to the first.

Malawi attacking for nothing and Zambia scoring.

Daka nearly added the second but Mikuwa kept his shot out with one hand.

Mwakilama almost scored but he dragged his volley marginally wide before Zambia added the second through Sakala who swept the ball from a rebound off Mikuwa’s initial block in a counter attack.

Sakala finally killed the game as a contest with the third goal in the dying minutes.

Despite the loss, Phiri remained upbeat over the prospect of progressing in the competition.

“It was a good game only that in our group, there were good teams. I must admit that we have problems when attacking. We are not doing so in numbers. Anyway, we have another game to play and we will improve,” Phiri said.

His Zambian counterpart Beston Chambeshi described Malawi as a good team.

“We played a very organised team defensively. In the first-half, we relaxed. We thought Malawi were not prepared to play but we saw that they had come to play and that is why we stepped up a gear and added those two goals. Malawi were good tactically. They packed the defence. They wanted a point,” he said.

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