Malawi Under-17 men’s football team survived a scare to draw 2-2 with Botswana on Friday at Bingu National Stadium in the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games official opening match.
However, Cosafa is using the Region 5 Games as Africa Cup of Nations Under-17 Algeria 2023 qualifiers.
Malawi came twice from behind in a match watched by fans, including President Lazarus Chakwera and his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi who was the guest of honour.
Botswana scored through Ratsukudu in the 12th and a minute after recess.
His first goal was from a free-kick which took a wicket deflection off the Malawi Under-17 human wall.
But Malawi’s Vincent Harrison restored hope on the half hour mark with an equaliser. Man of the match Mwisho Mhango passed a good cross and he and rounded off Botswana goalkeeper.
But the Botswana restored the lead just before recess when Ratsukudu scored his second. Malawi equalised in the 64th minute through Mwisho Mhango who was voted player of the match.
The two teams that will play in the finals will qualify for the Total Energies U17 AFCON Algeria 2023 that will be played next April.
In a post-match interview, Under-17 coach Deklerk Msakakuona, who was cautioned to produce better results, hailed his players for their fighting spirit.
“We panicked after they scored because we were not composed enough but we came back into the game to equalise. It was the same in the second half. But I am happy with the reaction of the players. I am hopeful that we will do better,” he said.
Botswana coach Tebogo Makute said his players made avoidable errors.
“It was a difficult game but overall we played very well. It was unfortunate conceding those goals and gave them momentum to come back in the game. But I am happy with how we played,” he said.
Football Association of Malawi gave coach Msakakuona a target to do well as the team has been struggling to do well since winning the Cosafa Cup in 21 years ago.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :