It was a case of so near, yet so far away when Malawi Under-17 national football team failed to reach the finals of this year’s Cosafa Youth Championship in Mauritius at the last hurdle, suffering a 2-0 defeat to neighbours Zambia.
The junior Flames’ promising start to the match was blown up inside six minutes as they conceded two goals, in the third and sixth minute, to see their dreams of a Cosafa title vanishing into thin air.
Zambia’s twin strikers, Lameck Banda and Martin Njobvu, haunted Malawi when they teamed up to put their side into a deserved lead.
Njobvu scored in the third minute before Banda added the second in the sixth minute.
News of the defeat is surely devastating for a nation that helped that the junior Flames were on the path to soothing the pain that their misfiring seniors caused by exiting this year’s Cosafa tournament in the group stages and without a single goal.
It was also the first time that Malawi had conceded at the tournament, having kept a clean sheet when they defeated Mauritius 2-0, Zimbabwe 5-0 and Botswana 3-0.
Silver Strikers newly-promoted defender, Hadji Wali, who skippers the side, was named man of the match.
It was an indication that Malawi Under-17 spent most of the time in their half trying to contain Zambia who were also riddled in age cheating allegations off the pitch.
Football Association of Malawi Vice President, James Mwenda, who is at the championship on a Cosafa ticket, said it was a difficult match.
“We were a little bit sloppy at the start. This, coupled with other factors, disturbed the team’s game plan. All in all, we need to bounce back to ensure that we defend the bronze medal,” Mwenda said.
Meanwhile, South Africa has lost to Mauritius by the same margin to book themselves a date with the Junior Flames Sunday in the third place play-off match.
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