Written by LEONARD SHARA
LILONGWE--A splendid second half display by Malawi national under 17 football team saw the junior Flames come from behind to beat visiting Botswana 2-1 in a 2013 African Under 17 Championship first qualifying leg played at Silver Stadium in Malawi capital, Lilongwe.
Smarting from the shock exit of five key players, released from camp at the eleventh hour after failing to meet Caf’s required age limit, the Malawi team put up a miserable show in the first half in which they trailed the visitors 0-1. Botswana’s Allen Ndondole struck for the visitors in the 16th minute strike after receiving a cross from Thatayaone Ramatlapeng.
Whatever coach John Kaputa said to his charges at the break, the junior Flames were a completely changed side in the second half. They played an attacking game, forcing the visitors to do the defending. It was not surprising at all to see danger man Brian Phiri leveling the scores after just 14 minutes of play in the second half.
Phiri was on target again in the 67th minute, connecting a well floated cross from Thokozani Harrison, who had come in as a substitute in the second half. Botswana coach Kaizer Kobedi said he was not disappointed with the loss, vowing his charges will punish the young Flames in Botswana during the second leg in two weeks time.
“Malawi is a good side but we have seen their strengths and weaknesses. The away goal we have scored is a bonus for us and we will definitely win the second leg in Botswana to progress to the next round,” said Kobedi. But Kaputa said his side would also push for an away goal in Botswana and avoid a loss. The Malawi coach said he would be going back to the drawing board after losing five key players before the game.
“We will be going back to square one, having lost five key players but for sure we are going to push for an away goal in Botswana to put pressure on the opponents. The Malawi coach had been caught off-guard when South African based match commissioner Ian McLeod told the team a day before the match that only players born from 1996 were fit to play as per Caf rules. Kaputa had five players above that age category after being misled by Football Association of Malawi (Fam) that he could feature players born from 1995.