Malawi under-17 national football team faces a nervous moment when meeting Cosafa Youth Championship Group A top rated side Zambia at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre, this afternoon.
The Junior Flames have found themselves in an awkward situation having lost to eSwatini 1-2 on Monday at the same venue a result that has left them frustrated, as their semifinal prospects hang in balance.
Hopes were high that the side could replicate the class of 2001 which won the championship on home soil.
Zambia, with six points, are favourites to reach the semifinals following their impeccable record having scored 13 goals in two games. Both eSwatini and Malawi have three points each but the visitors are ahead on head-to-head basis.
Malawi’s destiny is not in their hands as they need to beat Zambia and also hope that Amajimbos stop eSwatini.
eSwatini, having stunned the hosts, will date harmless opponents South Africa’s Amajimbos in another match at Kamuzu Stadium.
Amajimbos lost to the Junior Flames 3-0 and Zambia 7-0.
Flames under-17 Coach, De Klerk Msakakuona, while admitting that it was a daunting task against Zambia, said it was a must win match.
“We have to win against Zambia. We need a good result against Zambia. People may be saying it’s a tall order after they scored over 10 goals in two games. It is true they are a good side, but eSwatini has beaten Malawi after they lost their first game to Zambia 6-0 and managed to win against us [Malawi] 2-1,” he said.
Msaka kuona said his players were technically good but they needed to be prepared psychologically for the match.
“It will be a different game altogether. I think we will still talk with them. They know that they have lost to eSwatini and our chances are very slim now. Come Wednesday, it will be a different game with a different approach.
“I know some may have written us off saying we can’t qualify but football can be very cruel. You have seen today [Monday] we came into the game as favourites but after 90 plus minutes, it ended in eSwatini’s favour which means football sometimes can just do what it wants to do on a particular day. We just need to plan well against Zambia. If we can have a good plan against Zambia it is possible to get a good result. But we don’t want the boys to have pressure,” he said.
Zambia Coach, Osward Mukaka Mutapa, wants his charges to finish the campaign with a perfect record.
“But we are playing against the hosts, so it is going to be tough,” he said.
Meanwhile, eSwatini Coach, Gcina Dlamini, refused to underrate South Africa.
“They have also brought a good team which is young. There is no way we will overlook their capabilities. Together with my technical staff, we will come with a plan to succeed,” he said.