Football Association of Malawi’s (Fam) ignorance on rules regarding the eligibility of players to participate in the CAF African Under 17 Championship nearly cost the Malawi side dearly as the team played Botswana in a first qualifying leg for the tournament at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe on Saturday, September 8, 2012.
The association had informed the under 17 coaching panel headed by John Kaputa that players born from 1995 were eligible to play in the tournament only for the coach to get a rude awakening when the game’s match commissioner Ian McLeod arrived for the match on Friday, September 7, 2012.
The South African official produced a letter from CAF, stipulating that only players born from 1st January, 1996 were eligible to participate in the competition.
The development forced Kaputa to change his game plan at the eleventh hour by removing five first choice players, who had not satisfied the age limit.
His makeshift side was a disappointment to watch in the first half against the visiting Botswana under-17 team, which led 1-0 by half-time- courtesy of a 16 minute strike by Allen Ndondole.
It was after pep-talk by Kaputa and his team that the lads came an improved side to cancel out the visitors lead and score the winning goal, which may prove vital in the return leg in Botswana in two weeks time.
Red hot striker Brian Phiri leveLled for the junior Flames 13 minutes into the last half before hitting the second in the 77th minute.
A relieved Kaputa saluted his charges for putting up a gallant fight in the second half to take a one-goal advantage into the second leg.
“We suffered a major setback when the match commissioner told us we could not sue players that were born in 1995. I was forced to make five last minute changes and this affected us especially in the first half.
“But after telling the boys what to do at half time, they came breathing fire and we have a result to take into the second leg. We will go back to square one after the last minute hiccup to identify
other good players that can fit into the shoes of the ‘over-aged’ players,” said Kaputa after the game.
His Botswana counterpart Kaizer Kobedi said he would build from the away goal to deal with the junior Flames in the return leg: “The good thing for us is that we have scored an away goal. This gives us confidence that we will do well in the second leg,” said Kobedi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :