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Team Malawi gets 37 medals

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Deklerk Msakakuona

By Mphatso Malidadi & Mabvuto Kambuwe:

Team Malawi has collected 37 medals in the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games that ended in Lilongwe Sunday.

This is an improvement from 29 medals which the team got in Maseru, Lesotho, last year during the delayed 2020 edition of the Games.

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Malawi Under-17 Boys National Team, the junior Flames, have retained bronze following 5-2 victory over Botswana at Bingu National Stadium Sunday.

Out of the 37 medals, two are gold, 10 silver and 25 bronze.

Malawi National Sports Council (MNCS) Public Relations and Communications Officer Edgar Ntulumbwa said they are delighted to have broken the record which they set last year.

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“We are glad that we have broken the record we set last year in Lesotho. It was not easy but the athletes had the heart to win and that is why we have recorded that number of medals. Team Malawi had the youngest squad at the tournament, but they did not disappoint,” he said.

Ntulumbwa said they hope to build on this squad ahead of the 2024 edition of the competition as most athletes would be eligible to compete.

“We had the youngest squad at the tournament and most of them will be eligible to participate in the 2024 games in Mozambique. So, we hope to build from where we have started so that, come 2024 in Mozambique, we should break the record that we have set here at home,” he said.

Meanwhile, after failing to book a place at the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals following a 5-1 loss to South Africa, the junior Flames, vent their anger on the Young Zebras as they beat them 5-2.

They emulated the junior Scorchers, who also won bronze following a 9-0 victory over Botswana on Saturday night at the same venue.

Striker Webster Mzunda scored a hat-trick whereas Lucky Mkandawire and Vincent Harrison netted a goal each.

On the part of Botswana, Losika Ratshukudu and Boikobo Matakula were on target for the Young Zebras.

This means Malawi have won bronze for two consecutive tournaments, having won it during the 2020 edition held in Maseru, Lesotho, last year.

Then, they beat eSwatini 4-0.

Malawi Under-17 Coach Deklerk Msakakuona was pleased with the performance of the players during the tournament.

“I think the players tried their best throughout the tournament. It is unfortunate that we did not qualify for Afcon finals,” he said.

Malawi last won the Cosafa U-17 Boys Championship on home soil in 2001.

Before the tournament, Msakakuona was given a target to qualify for the finals.

Despite failing to achieve the target, chairperson for sub technical committee of Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Tiya Somba Banda backed the Msakakuona-led technical panel.

“It is every team’s ambition to win the top prize that is on the table. We worked hard. Unfortunately, we did not get it but there are a lot of positives we have taken from our performances. There are also lessons on how we should prepare for future tournaments,” Somba-Banda said.

During the tournament, Malawi started with a 2-2 draw against Botswana in the group stages before beating Nambia 2-1.

However, they lost 5-1 to South Africa in the semi-finals.

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