The Malawi Under-17 national football team yesterday bowed out of the Cosafa Under-17 Championship after they gave up a 1-0 lead in the last two minutes against Namibia before losing 6-5 through post-match penalties at the Stade St Francois Xavier in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Marksman Peter Banda increased his chances of clinching the golden boot as he scored his fourth goal at the tournament, but the Junior Flames conceded in 88th minute.
Peter, son to former Flames and Nyasa Big Bullets midfielder, the late Chikondi, is joint leading scorer with Namibia’s Abram Tjahikika with four goals apiece.
Namibia face favourites South Africa who thrashed Kenya 4-0 in the first semi-final with goals from Bonga Dladla, Lina Mchilizeli, Luke le Roux and Mjabulise Mkhize.
The Junior Flames and Kenya will curtain-raise the final to determine the third-placed team.
Ironically, the Junior Flames were preparing to face South Africa in semi-finals until Thursday evening when Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) made the changes following the disqualification of Zambia.
The Junior Chipolopolo were expelled for using over-aged players Nicholas Mulilo and Benjamin Phiri. Consequently, Malawi finished top of Group B and the East African guest nation Kenya claimed the runners-up spot.
The first half ended goalless although the Junior Flames had a couple of chances. In the 16th minute, Francisco Madinga was denied by Namibia goalkeeper Joseph after dribbling past two defenders.
Madinga’s free kick also went over the bar before Raphael Banda headed wide from a corner kick went wide. Chimango Kalinga’s header was also saved by the keeper.
They finally hit the target in the 51st minute through marksman Banda from outside the box.
Malawi were on top for most of their semifinal and after missing a number of opportunities, took the lead after a fine goal from outside the box by Peter Banda.
It looked as though they would hold on for the win as well until Namibia’s Eldery Morgan popped up with an equaliser two minutes from time.
That took the game to a penalty shoot-out and when Innocent Shema missed his spot-kick, the Namibians triumphed 6-5.
Hastings Banda, Lexpart Sumaili, Henry Chiwaya, Chimango Kalinga, Hadji Wali, Raphael Banda, Peter Banda, Frank Chizuze, Madinga, Moses Chipanda, Shema. n