By Mabvute Kambuwe
Malawi under-20 National Football Team Coach Patrick Mabedi believes his charges will this afternoon be composed enough to see off Namibia in the on-going Cosafa Youth Championship at Wolfson Stadium in South Africa.
The game comes after Malawi’s hard fought 1-0 victory over Comoros Islands in the opening game of the Cosafa Qualifiers for Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Friday.
The junior Flames were wasteful against Comoros and needed a stoppage time winner to claim maximum points.
After the first game, Mabedi said his charges were not ruthless in the final third.
“We just need to be composed in front of the goal so that we convert our chances. I think we also need to keep possession,” he said.
Mabedi might make changes to the squad that defeated Comoros after the junior Flames were guilty of missing several scoring chances. Lanjesi Nkhoma might start in place of Zizwa Hanjahanja but Stanely Billiati, Patrick Mwaungulu, Hadji Wali, Innocent Shema and Aubrey Maloya will likely be maintained in the starting lineup.
A win in today’s match against Namibia would boost Malawi’s chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece finals to be staged in Mauritania next year. It will also help Flames under-20 to achieve the feat before their final Group B match against defending champions Zambia slated for Wednesday.
If Malawi under-20 beat Namibia it will be the first time for the junior Flames to qualify for the Cosafa semifinals in nine years. Both Malawi and Zambia are tied on three points from one match.
The last time Malawi reached the semifinals was in 2011 but lost 4-2 to Angola before a 1-0 loss to Botswana in third-place play-offs. Namibia, who made a return to the competition after missing the 2018 and 2019 editions, started the campaign with a narrow 1-0 loss to Zambia. But they might be looking to bounce back against the junior Flames.
In another Group B match, Zambia will face Comoros in an early kick-off. Group winner in each group will advance to the semifinals of the competition and will be joined by the overall best runner-up.
The winner of the Cosafa Cup and runner-up will book an automatic ticket to next year’s Total U-20 Afcon finals.
Malawi qualified for the Total U-20 Afcon finals once but lost all the three group matches in Ethiopia in 1999.