Just as anticipated, Malawi Under-20 national football team, which travelled to Zambia for the 2018 Cosafa Youth Championship without training, is all but out of the tournament after a 1-1 draw against Mozambique at Shinde Stadium in Mufulirwa.
After losing 2-0 to hosts Zambia in the opening match, Malawi yesterday needed to collect full points to remain in contention.
In a match monitored on Kwese Television, striker-cum-midfielder Peter Banda gave Malawians some hope that the team might pull the surprise of the year when his thunderbolt put Malawi ahead in the 20th minute.
But the Junior Flames failed to utilise several scoring opportunities.
Malawi was punished for wastefulness when Mozambique grabbed an equaliser in the 60th minute through Alifa.
In the other Group A match, Zambia maintained a clean sheet after beating guests team Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) 2-0 at Nkana Stadium in Kitwe.
The hosts firmly top the table with six points and just need a draw in their last group match against Mozambique.
Mozambique, who beat DR Congo, are second with four points following the draw against Malawi.
The Junior Flames are third with a point while DR Congo anchor the group without a point.
With only the group winners advancing to the semi-finals and one best runner-up from the three groups filling up the last slot, Malawi need a miracle to pull such a surprise.
Coach Meke Mwase, however, said he was impressed with the team’s response after the 2-0 loss to Zambia.
He said he was confident of winning the last match.
But even if they beat DR Congo in their last group match on Saturday, they will finish at four points, which other teams have already surpassed.
Malawi’s consolation came from impressive Banda who was named man of the match after his superb performance.