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They deserve a pat on the back

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The performance of Malawi Under-17 national soccer team at the ongoing Cosafa tournament in Mauritius has been exciting and impressive. The lads surely deserve a grand homecoming party on their return.

I don’t care that the team lost 2-0 to over aged Zambians yesterday to be booted out of the tournament.

Popularly known as the junior Flames, though their performance is the direct opposite of their seniors, the team managed to maintain a clean sheet in three games.

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Who would not smile when a team that scored nine goals from three matches without conceding returns home? The junior Flames beat Botswana 2-0, demolished high-nosed Zimbabwe 5-0 before dismantling hosts Mauritius 2-0.

These boys deserve a warm pat on the back for their exploits. They are a beacon of hope for Malawi football.

Unless one is an agent of the devil, they cannot appreciate such talent and achievement for a country that has suffered enough humiliation from football. But for those who know how to appreciate, this was enough solace.

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However, it is incumbent upon Football Association of Malawi to ensure that these youngsters are properly looked after. The country’s soccer governing body has a tendency of failing to groom such young talents into future stars.

If you may recall, last year Malawi also produced a brilliant Under-17 side that left an indelible mark by clinching bronze at the same tournament.

However, to the chagrin of most of us, the team is nowhere to be seen. Lack of continuity is the cancer that has been eating, and continues to devbour, Malawi football.

It is defies logic to identify such talents without investing in them. If this team can be properly looked after, Malawi football would transform beyond recognition in the next five years.

On the other hand, it would be foolish for me to finish writing this column without applauding the coaching panel which has been the brains behind the success of this great team.

De Klerk Msakakuona, Peter Mponda and Enos Chatama have proven beyond reasonable doubt that they are the ideal combination for the game’s youth development.

For those who understand the game of football, there are certain common denominators that are manifesting themselves in these three tacticians.

Msakakuona has been consistent with his results since he was hired to take charge of the team for last year’s tournament.

As for Mponda, he has proven to be the big man when it comes to developing young talents. His exploits with Surestream Football Academy speak volumes.

I feel uncomfortable that these coaches are also attached to the senior team which is struggling to come to adopt the much-talked

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