Junior Flames have finished last at the Cosafa Under-17 Youth Championship in South Africa following a 2-1 loss to Angola in third/fourth-place classification match at Gelvandale Stadium yesterday.
The defeat means they have concluded the four-team contest without a single win in four games. They started off with a hope-giving two-all draw against hosts South Africa’s Amajimbo before crashing 6-2 and 7-1 to Zambia and Angola, respectively, in round-robin encounters.
Yesterday, Andrew Lameck put Malawi in the lead with a simple finish as early as the first minute. However, the going proved tough after Jeremias Kossa restored parity for Angola in the 10th minute and Custodio Hequele scored the winner in the 41st minute.
Malawi coach DeKlerk Msakakuona conceded that it was tough for his boys.
“It has been a tough competition for us, but what was important was the fact that our boys have gained international exposure. They were improving with each passing game,” he said.
“We cannot blame the players much as this was their first appearance on the international stage, where naivety can be costly.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said they need to look at the technical panel’s report before they can competently comment on the team’s overall performance.
“Of course, we have not had a good run in this competition, but we will have to get a report from our technical colleagues so that it helps us look at what issues we need to address going forward considering that this is an annual competition. We need to look at the shortfalls that led to the latest results at this tournament,” he said.
The competition has finished with Chifundo Mphasi as Malawi’s top scorer with three goals.
As we went to press, South Africa were taking on Zambia in the final.
Initially, the event had eight teams but were reduced to four after Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) reformatted the competition after the Confederation of African Football Youth Competitions Committee disqualified Botswana, Comoros Islands, e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) and Zimbabwe for fielding over-age players.
The situation forced Cosafa to disregard matches which were played before the contest was restructured, including Malawi’s two-all draw against Botswana, as mere warm-up matches and had no bearing on the new tournament format.