Malawi Under-20 national football team yesterday got off to a flying start at the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championship after edging Swaziland 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at Arthur Davis Stadium in Kitwe, Zambia.
However, assistant coach Peter Mponda says the team has to work on some shortfalls noted in the first match as they face hosts and defending champions Zambia in the second match tomorrow before wrapping up the group stage against East African guests Uganda on Monday.
“We will get there. The first match was tough, but the good thing is that the boys showed character. That’s what we need,” he said.
The match against Zambia could be a decider of the group. If Malawi top group A, they will meet the winner of Group C which has last year’s bronze winners Angola, Namibia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe
Malawi have never won the tournament, but reached the final in 2003 where they lost to Zambia.
Football analyst Charles Nyirenda warned against complacency after the win against Swaziland.
“Mind you, we are competing against the hosts, defending champions and the tournament’s favourites. We need to beat them before we can even start celebrating this win,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said yesterday’s win should motivate the players to fight for a clean record in the group stage.
“Zambia might be the hosts and favourites. But we should be aiming at winning all our games not just against Zambia. Uganda could be tough as well,” he said.
Led by Peter Banda, who made his Cosafa Under-20 debut after graduating from the Under-17, Malawi were on target as early as the seventh minute when the Griffin Young Stars attacking midfielder’s powerful shot caught Swaziland keeper Mlamuli Lukhele off-guard.
But the Swazis equalised minutes into the second half through Muzi Tsabedze.
However, Malawi regained the lead in the 59th minute through PremierBet Wizards midfielder Patrick Phiri, who also had a grand game.
The Swazis again levelled the scores in the 64th minute, this time through a penalty converted by their captain Gamedze Saviola.
Phiri completed his brace four minutes later to restore Malawi’s lead. He was deservedly named man-of the match.
Malawi first XI: Charles Thom, Levison Maganizo, Hadji Wali, Chimwemwe Idana, Mike Mkwate, Patrick Phiri, Precious Sambani (Ernest Petro), Nickson Nyasulu (Sydney Chabulika), Charles Petro, K. Mwaila, Peter Banda (Peter Manyozo) n