Malawi Under-17 national soccer team on Saturday came from behind to beat Botswana’s Young Zebras 2-1 in the first leg of the Confederation of African Youth (CAF) Championship preliminary round, first leg at Silver Stadium in Lilongwe.
Playing before a sizeable crowd, the visitors scored the opening goal of the match in the 18th minute through Kabelano Mwoketsane after receiving a nice low cross from Thatayaone Ramatlapens following a well calculated counter attack move.
The goal gave the visitors energy as they kept on terrorizing the Junior Flames half with the home team failing to organize themselves in terms of exchanging of passes.
In the 44th minute, Botswana was forced to make the first substitution introducing Tiroyaone Maine replacing Allen Ndondole who sustained an injury and was stretched off.
Immediately after recess, Flames technical panel headed by John Kaputa introduced Gibson Kaunda and Kemme Kaunda for Boston Kabango and Issac Mwale respectively.
The introduction of the fresh blood seemed to have paid dividends as the Junior Flames started attacking the visitors with full throttle.
In the 51st minute the Junior Flames nearly equalized but captain Lovemore Jere’s header from a corner kick went over the bar.
In the 56th minute, Feston Chikwezga, playing as a left winger missed a golden opportunity as he was left unmarked in the box but his shot went straight into the hands of Botswana keeper Keeagile Kgosipula.
The happy moment arrived in the 58th minute when Brian Phiri, probably man of the match, scored the equalizer from a long range effort which came in a form of a rebound.
Then it was Malawi all over as they kept on terrorizing defence wave after wave.
Phiri put his name again on the score shit when he blasted into the net a left footed shot beating a cloud of defence and the keeper.
The lead gave the Flames confidence and dominated the match until the final whistle.
Thokozani Harrison who came in as a substitute on the left flank replacing Festus Chikwezga was a marvel to watch as he kept on knocking the ball around with Peter Chembezi, Kemme Kaunda and Gibson Kaunda who was operating from the opposite flank.
Final result 2-1 and coach Kaputa was in cloud nine after the final whistle.
“It was a tough game but all in all I am happy that we have won and I am happy that we have won at home,” said Kaputa.
He also said that his plans were disturbed with the coming in of five new players in camp yesterday who replaced other players who were not eligible to play.
“A match commissioner brought a letter from CAF that all those who were born in 1996 should not play but only those whose passport indicates they were born in 1996 and this forced us to bring in new guys,” said Kaputa who led Malawi into qualification of the youth continental showcase in Algeria in 2009.
His counterpart Kaizer Kobedi conceded the defeat.
“We lost our key player who was injured (Allen Ndondole) but we fought hard. Malawi is a good side and it really played well,” said Kobedi.
But he however sent a warning to the junior Flames that they should expect fireworks when the two sides meet again in Botswana for a return leg.
“In Botswana it will be a different game and I promise you we will beat Malawi in Botswana. I have seen the way they are playing and I know their strength and weaknesses” he said.
The return leg is slated for Gaborone in two weeks’ time.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :