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Under-20 aim to break 11-year jinx

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Malawi Under-20 National Football Team Coach Patrick Mabedi has said his troops are targeting to win every match during the group stages of the 2022 Cosafa Youth Championship slated for October 6 to16 in eSwatini.

The team is expected to leave today for the tournament which will be used as a qualifier for the Total Energies Africa Youth Championship to be staged in Egypt next year.

Coach Patrick Mabedi has named a 20-member squad for the trip.

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Mabedi said the target is to get a positive start.

“Our target is simple— to win the first game. Then, we have to fight and win the next one. We don’t want to put the boys under pressure but our goal is to win every match,’’ Mabedi said.

The junior Flames are in Group C alongside South Africa, Comoros and Namibia.

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They will start their group stage campaign against South Africa on October 8 at Somhlolo Stadium before meeting Comoros at Mavuso Stadium two days later.

Malawi will then wrap up their group assignments with a showdown against Namibia on October 12.

The junior Flames have never gone past the group stages of the competition since 2011, when they finished fourth in Botswana.

Mabedi said he had a selection headache for the final squad as there was a lot of talent.

’’We had good preparations and we are ready. We have done our research on our opponents and there is hope that we will do well,’’ he said.

Champions and runners-up of the competition will automatically qualify for the continental tournament in Egypt.

Malawi last qualified for the tournament in 1999, when they lost all group matches.

Former Malawi National Football Team defender Moses Chavula said the junior Flames are capable of pulling a surprise.

’’We should not put the players under unnecessary pressure. Let them enjoy the game. But there is a possibility of doing well,’’ Chavula said.

In 2019, Malawi registered a 4-0 victory over Comoros Islands in their opening match but a 2-2 draw against Botswana and a 2-1 loss to Zambia saw them pack up in the group stages.

The following year, the junior Flames only managed a 1-0 win over Comoros, losing 2-1 and 2-0 to Namibia and Zambia, respectively.

The travelling squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers-Wisdom Khuni, Joshua Waka and Austin Chirambo.

Defenders-Kondwani Chirwa, Chimwemwe Nkhoma, Chisomo Chawanda, Chrispine Mapemba, Kelvin Banda, Andrew Lameck and Happy Mphepo.

Midfielders-Robert Saizi, Chikumbutso Salima, Lloyd Aaron, Frank Mahowa, Wongani Kaponya and Bright Mtondagowa.

Strikers-Vincent Mkandawire, Chifundo Mphasi, Masambiro Kalua and Emmanuel Saviel.

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