Having put a foot in the second qualifying round for the 10th African Youth Championship a fortnight ago, Malawi Under-17 national team must fully land today (Friday) in Botswana.
The more they progress in the youth championship, the more the new batch of talented teenagers get international exposure, which is crucial to the production chain of future Flames.
Coach John Kaputa, who got injured on Friday after an accidental clash with a player, insisted that his charges have brighter prospect of advancing to the next round where Rwanda lies in wait.
â€œA day before facing Botswana in the first leg in Lilongwe, six players were found to have exceeded the age limit and five of these, including two strikers, were in the starting line-up. Yet we managed to come from behind and win,â€ said Kaputa, putting matters in perspective.
In that first leg of the preliminary round played at Civo Stadium, Kaputa improvised Brain Phiri as a striker and he responded with a brace. With more attacking options in the return leg, Phiri might revert to midfield role, joining the likes of exciting winger Isaac Mwale. Multi-talented captain Lovemore Jere will lead the defence.
â€œNow I have all the time to prepare for Botswana. I have a clear analysis of how Botswana play. Winning should not be a tall order for us,â€ declared Kapito.
There is one more round after two-legged clashes with Rwanda before teams can book a ticket to the finals in Morocco next year.
In their last appearance in the competition in 2009, Malawi went as far as the Africa Youth finals in Algeria, then by default after Beninâ€™s disqualification, up to the World Youth Cup finals in Nigeria.
The road to both finals produced gems that have taken over the Flames such as Robin Ngalande and Limbikani Mzava.