Hosts Malawi made an impressive start to their 2019 Cosafa Men’s Under-17 Championship campaign with a 3-0 Group A victory over South Africa at a packed Mpira Stadium in Blantyre at the weekend.
The victory was fully deserved as the Young Flames bossed the game and joined equally-impressive Zambia on three points at the top of the pool after the first round of matches.
An impressive crowd turned out for the second day running and were not disappointed with nine goals in the two games and some excellent attacking football.
South Africa had the better chances in the opening half but went into the break behind as Mike Thomu profited from some good work by Chikumbutso Salima to slide the ball into the net.
Dave Tobias added the second on 53 minutes when he headed home from Noel Sakala’s cross before Salima and Sakala combined again for Tobias to get his brace with under an hour on the clock.
Salima might have added a fourth when he led a counter-attack, but his shot cannoned back off the woodwork.
The match did end on a sour note for Malawi when defender Andrew Lameck received a red card deep into injury-time following a professional foul on South Africa’s Neo Dikgale as he threatened to break away.
Zambia earlier swept aside eSwatini with six of the best to suggest they will be huge contenders for the title in what was an emphatic display in their opener.
Some miscommunication at the back allowed Moses Mulenga to sneak in and open the scoring after just five minutes before eSwatini could have equalised when Khayalethu Zitha found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but could not finish.
Rickson Ng’ambi converted a second for the Young Chipolopolo when he curled a left-footed shot into the goal before captain Miguel Chirwa added a third from the penalty spot.
It was 4-0 on the stroke of halftime as Ng’ambi played in Chipyoka Songa, who beat and defender and rounded the keeper to score.
Julius Kumwenda added a fifth after some neat play from Peter Chikola on the wing, and Charles Mumba completed the scoring with a neat finish four minutes from full-time.
The action will continue on Sunday when the second round of matches will be played in Group B as Angola and Lesotho seek victories after both lost their openers 1-0.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo