Malawi Under-17 National Football Team blew away the chance to open the Region 5 Games with a win after surrendering a 1-0 lead to share the spoils with Botswana.
The 1-1 result leaves Malawi with the task of ensuring a win in their second and last Group B match at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru, Lesotho.
The draw means the group is wide open as all the three teams have realistic chances of qualifying for the semifinals.
Malawi will face Angola on Sunday, 24 hours after Angola’s match against Botswana.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals of the competition.
In a match monitored on Cosafa TV, Madalitso Mwachumu broke the deadlock for Malawi five minutes after kickoff. But Botswana netted the equaliser from the penalty spot through Phillip Kaku in the 76th minute.
The young Flames dominated the match with Modric Kambendera, captain Kondwani Chirwa and Modric Kambendera on top of their game.
Other players that coach DeKlerk Msakakuona trusted were goalkeeper Alex Dzimbiri, Watson Linguni, Vincent Harrison and Blessings Kanowa.
Former Flames midfielder Sherry Msuku said Malawi made life difficult for themselves.
“This is a missed opportunity. The draw will put us under pressure in the last match. However, we still have chances of reaching the semifinals. Let us just keep our fingers crossed,” Msuku said.
The boys’ tournament has six teams following withdrawals of holders South Africa, Zimbabwe, Comoros Islands and Seychelles.
During the 2020 edition, the young Flames finished bottom without a win in a tournament which had four teams following the expulsion of some teams due to age-cheating.