Junior Flames coach Patrick Mabedi believes his charges can cause an upset against defending champions Zambia in this afternoon’s must-win Under-20 Cosafa Championship clash.
A two-goal margin win could boost Malawi’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals if Group B table anchors Comoros Islands can also beat Namibia.
The Malawi Under-20 national football team goes into this final Group B encounter at Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa after a 2-1 shock defeat to Namibia and have an uphill task against the reigning champions, who they have not beaten in their last six meetings.
Since the 2014 edition, Malawi have lost five times (2-1, 1-0, 3-0, 2-0 and 2-1) and drawn once against their neighbours, who have won the competition a record 11 times and are at the summit of the group with six points after winning all their two group matches.
Junior Flames are third in the four-team group, where they are tied on three points with second-placed Namibia.
It will be difficult for Malawi to make it as the best runners-up across all the three groups because results against bottom teams in Group A and B will be discarded to make the determining calculations fair for three-team Group C. This means Malawi are so far considered to have no point as their 1-0 win against Comoros will not be counted.
“It will really be a tall order to beat Zambia and earn a semi-final slot. However, anything is possible in football; we just have to get organised and focus on our game at hand,” Mabedi said.
In spite of that, the Junior Flames mentor said they will go flat out with attacking football against Zambia because “we have nothing to lose”.
Mabedi added they have so far worked hard to rectify their imperfections in front of goal, a weakness he said led to their struggles in their last two group matches.
Junior Flames captain Hadji Wali conceded that the going has been tough in the competition, but they are determined to put a smile back on Malawians’ faces with a victory in their last group match.
“We have been playing well, but scoring and conceding silly goals have been our major setbacks. The technical panel has worked hard to help us tighten the loose ends and we are geared to grind a positive result against Zambia,” he said.
Zambia Under-20 national team coach Perry Mutapa was quoted by www.zambianfootball.co.zm as having said they are determined to complete their group matches with 100 percent winning record.
Finalists at this year’s Cosafa Under-20 contest will earn a ticket to Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) scheduled for Mauritania next year.