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Under-17 aim to break 19-year jinx as they face Zambia

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FACING TRICKY ASSIGNMENTS—Msakakuona

Zambia’s 19-year unbeaten record against Malawi Under-17 national football team faces a stern test when reviving their rivalry this afternoon at Gelvandale Stadium at the ongoing Cosafa Youth Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

The odds are stacked against Malawi, having played second fiddle to Zambia in this age bracket since the Cosafa Youth Championship was introduced in 1994. Malawi have gone 19 years without beating Young Chipolopolo at the Cosafa Cup.

The last time Malawi u-17 beat Zambia (5-4) was in 2001 in the semifinals and went on to win the competition on home soil. But, since then, the junior Flames have failed to beat the Young Chipololo in five matches. Malawi and Zambia also met during the 2019 edition but Zambia claimed a 3-2 victory at Mpira Village in Blantyre.

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A win for Malawi would boost their chances of qualifying for the final of the Cosafa Cup for the second time in competition’s history. However, the junior Flames must avoid a defeat to remain in contention for the final.

Zambia are top of the reset tournament with three points, having beaten Angola 2-1 in the opening match whereas Malawi are second with just one point after a 2-2 draw with South Africa’s Amajita.

The clash has come at a time the junior Flames are desperate for a win after drawing the opening match of the reset tournament. Malawi under-17 coach Deklerk Msakakuona was upbeat of getting a positive result.

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“We are looking forward to getting a positive result against Zambia. I know it will be a difficult match. The group looks wide open but if we get good result against Zambia, it will be good for us. I am happy that the boys are improving each game,” Msakakuona said.

Zambia, who are defending champions, have some familiar names who shone last year in Blantyre. Coach George Chilufya recently told Zambian media that the boys were adapting well to weather conditions in Port Elizabeth.

The junior Flames have appeared in all but one of the eight previous Cosafa Men’s Under-17 championship and emerged winners on home soil in 2001 after beating South Africa 3-0.

Top two teams will advance to the final of the competition and also book a ticket to the Total 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be staged in Morocco next year. Malawi last qualified for the continental edition in 2009 in Algeria and went on to qualify for the World Cup in Nigeria in 2010.

Head to head in the last four matches

Zambia 1 Malawi 1

Zambia 1 Malawi 0

Malawi 0 Zambia 2

Malawi 2 Zambia 3

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