The Malawi Under-20 national football team yesterday qualified for the first round of the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) courtesy of a vital away goal against the Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly Swaziland.
The first leg played at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe ended in a goalless draw a fortnight ago.
According to www.swazilive.com, Chinsinsi Maonga scored the priceless goal in the 15th minute at Somhlolo Stadium in Lobamba before the hosts levelled in the 36th minute through Leone Manyisa.
But the Junior Flames held on to their nerves to sail through on away goals rule.
The result was the perfect tonic for Malawi who had vowed to give their all in honour of their departed team-mate Abel Mwakilama who died after an illness in Portugal on Friday.
Coach Meke Mwase, sounding relieved in an interview from Eswatini yesterday, said he was satisfied that his charges came out of the two-legged contest triumphant and dedicated it to Mwakilama.
“We knew it would be tough, but we needed this result badly to honour Abel and I am relieved that the boys fought every inch of the way.
“We would have loved to sail through with a win. However, Swaziland [Eswatini] also fought hard, but the most important thing is that we are through and now we can start planning for our next encounter,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu also saluted the team for sailing through
“The win is a dedication to the late Abel. Kudos to the players for showing great character having lost their beloved colleague barely a few days earlier.
“It is an impressive result when you consider that they had to dig deep away,” he said.
Malawi’s next opponents are Angola and the first leg is slated for May 12-13 at home with the return fixture slated for May 19-20.