Malawi Under-20 national football team on Friday held champions and hosts Zambia to a goalless draw at the Cosafa Youth Championship in Kitwe to set up a Group A decider for a semi-final slot against guests participants Uganda, who settled for a two-all draw with Swaziland.
The Junior Flames are second in four-team group A after tying on four points with leaders Uganda, who have a better goal difference. Malawi ‘s goal difference is one while Uganda’s is two. Swaziland are third with a point, the same as anchors Zambia.
This means Malawi, who triumphed 3-2 over Swaziland in their opener, will make the semi-final grade if they beat Uganda in their last group match on Monday. If they lose, they might also qualify as best losers depending on results from the other two groups.
During Friday’s match, monitored on Kwese Television from Arthur Davies Stadium, Malawi put up an impressive performance, especially in the first half , that stole the hearts of the Zambian fans, who suddenly dumped their team out of frustration to mimic Malawi’s celebratory bekeshu dance at the sound of the final whistle.
Malawi’s midfielder Chimwemwe Idana was named man-of-the-match. Individual performances of Peter Banda, Peter Phiri and Levison Maganizo on the attacking line ensured the Zambians were on the back-foot.
“We are happy with the point obtained from this match and we are looking forward to our final group match against Uganda. We know that would probably be our toughest match in the competition but we are determined to make the semi-final grade,” said Malawi coach Gerald Phiri.
His Zambian counterpart Mumamba Numba, whose side lost 0-2 to Uganda in their opener, said he was disappointed with the draw.
“It is unfortunate we failed to win today. We will try our best to win our last game and see how it will end for us.”
In the match between Swaziland and Uganda, Muzi Tsabedze had Swaziland ahead midway through the first half as he blasted the ball home from the edge of the box and into the top corner.
But Mohammed Shaban, who netted a brace in the 2-0 win over Zambia on Wednesday, drew his side level with a header after Swaziland goalkeeper Mlamuli Lukhele had spilled the ball into his path.
Swaziland had a number of chances to regain the lead, but fell behind when Allan Okello finished a swift counter and scored on the turn from the edge of the box.
It looked as though Uganda would hold on for the win, but Order Mamba grabbed his second of the tournament in injury-time to claim what could be a vital point for the Swazis.