Steam-rolling Malawi Under-17 national football team are targeting a clean record as they face hosts Mauritius in their last Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Youth Championship Group A match this afternoon.
The Junior Flames, who top the group following their convincing wins against Botswana (2-0) and Zimbabwe (5-0), face the hosts at Stade St. François Xavier in Port Louis in a battle for the top slot.
The two teams are tied on six points, but the Junior Flames have a better goal difference, having scored seven goals without conceding. Mauritius have notched only two goals and have let in none. They beat Zimbabwe 1-0 and Botswana by the same score margin.
Coach DeKlerk Msakakuona said they need to preserve their clean record to finish as Group A leaders. However, he said they need to guard against complacency when they face the hosts.
“They have a good side. Just like us, they have won their two matches. So, we should not underrate them,” he said.
Nevertheless, his assistant Peter Mponda said the Junior Flames’ determination to beat the hosts is not aimed at avoiding a semi-final clash against fellow hot title-contenders Zambia, but rather maintaining a 100 percent winning record.
He said Malawi’s physical and tactical prowess exhibited so far cannot be matched by any team at the event.
Should Malawi triumph over Mauritius or pluck a draw, they will maintain the top position in the four-team group A with nine points from three-straight wins and will face group B runners-up South Africa’s Amajimbos in the last four.
However, a loss would see them drop to second and set them up for a battle against Zambia’s Young Chipolopolo who thrashed Madagascar 7-1 in their opener before beating South Africa 3-2 in their second match.
“We respect all the teams in the competition but we are not afraid of any side. To win the contest, we need to beat the best so we do not care who we meet in the semifinals. At the rate we are registering results at the competition, we fear no team. Our focus is on winning all our games,” Mponda said.
The Junior Flames will bank their hopes on striker Chinsinsi Maonga, who has three goals to his credit this far and is in the run for the golden boot award.
Maonga was on target when Malawi beat Botswana in the opener before following it up with another impressive performance against Zimbabwe, in a match he notched a brace and was also named man-of-the match.
Mauritius have been riding on the back of playmaker Adriano Chiu Chung Fat and striker Jean Aristide who were on song as the hosts came from behind to beat Zimbabwe 2-1 to punch a ticket to the semi-final.
As Malawi and the hosts, who are both through to the semi-finals, are battling for the top position, Botswana and Zimbabwe will be playing in an academic match since they are both out.
But as we went to press, Group B teams were playing their last matches, with Zambia playing Mozambique while Madagascar was facing South Africa to decide who qualifies for the semi-finals. n