Malawi Under-17 national football team yesterday conjured up a 2-0 victory over hosts Mauritius to maintain their 100 percent winning record at the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Youth Championship.
Patrick Mwaungulu drew first blood with a 16th minute strike before Tathedwa Willard added the second goal in the 73rd minute.
So far, the Junior Flames have plucked three-straight wins and are the only side yet to concede a goal or lose a match at the competition after scoring nine goals. This is contrary to what the senior Flames achieved at the same stage during the recent Cosafa contest in South Africa, where they failed to score a single goal but picked the ball from their own net twice.
In spite of that, the latest results mean the Junior Flames have finished on top of Group A with nine points to set up tomorrow’s semi-final clash against group-B runners-up and the competition’s favourites Zambia at Stade St Francois Xavier.
Mauritius have taken Group A’s second place with six points and will face Group B winners South Africa’s Amajimbos in the other last-four encounter.
Amajimbo are tied on six points with Zambia and Mozambique in their group but they found themselves at the summit on head-to-head rule that saw all the three teams’ results against fourth-placed Madagascar ruled out when breaking the tie.
Semi-final winners will meet in the finals on Sunday.
Malawi are searching for second Cosafa Under-17 glory following their success as hosts in 2001. Last year, the team won bronze.
“The performance of the boys is rising and we are proud of our team. Just imagine, Mauritius supporters gave us a standing ovation after we beat their team,” said Junior Flames assistant coach Peter Mponda.
When asked about Malawi’s chances against Zambia’s Young Chipolopolo in the semis, Mponda said: “We will progress to the finals because our team is much better. Even people here love our style of play and we are a squad with the right ages. The Zambians have no style and they brought old players, who are tactically inferior to our charges.”
Soccer analyst George Kaudza-Masina described the Junior Flames’ performance as a good development to Malawi football.
“It is now up to FAM [Football Association of Malawi] to maintain this squad as a feeder for Under-20 and senior Flames. Let FAM learn a lesson from the previous Under-17 squads, which got disbanded after the tournament,” he said.
Junior Flames coach DeKlerk Msakakuona made only two changes to the starting line-up that faced Zimbabwe; resting Franklin Titani and Prince Chingamcheke for Alex Tsamba and Mwaungulu, respectively.
The first-XI had Kennedy Nankhaima, captain Haji Wali, Joseph Balakasi, Innocent Nhlema, David Daudi, Auspicious Kadzongola, Willard (Vitumbiko Nyirenda), Mwaungulu, Chinsinsi Maonga, Chikondi Mbeta and Tsamba.