A profile of 2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championship side Malawi as they seek to turn bronze into gold in Mauritius from July 19-29.
COSAFA Under-17 Championship wins (1): 2001
Last years’ finish: Third
African Under-17 Championship appearances (1): 2009
Best finish: Fourth (2009)
FIFA Under-17 World Cup appearances (1): 2009
Best finish: Group Stages (2009)
2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championship fixtures:
20/07: vs Angola – 10h00 – Auguste Vollaire Stadium
23/07: vs Zimbabwe – 12h00 – St Francois Xavier Stadium
25/07: vs Swaziland – 15h30 – Auguste Vollaire Stadium
Malawi have proven worthy campaigners at Under-17 level in the COSAFA region and have even appeared on the biggest stage of all at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
The Young Flames were COSAFA Under-17 Championship winners in 2001 as they comprehensively defeated hosts South Africa 3-0 in the final.
Eight years later they stormed into the semifinals of the 2009 African Under-17 Championships that were staged in Algeria, though they did have a stroke of luck when they were elevated from third in their pool after Niger, who finished above them, were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.
Malawi lost to Gambia in the semifinals and Burkina Faso in the bronze-medal match, but still managed to seal a place in the World Cup later that year in Nigeria.
They lost all three games, but were certainly not disgraced as they fought hard, their fate sealed by a defeat to a Spanish side that included the likes of current stars Isco, Álvaro Morata, Koke and Sergi Roberto.
Malawi were top contenders again at the 2016 and 2017 COSAFA Under-17 Championship, which were also both played in Mauritius.
They were narrow semifinal losers to Namibia on penalties two years ago, going on to collect the bronze medal as they beat East African guest nation Kenya 2-0 in the play-off.
They topped their pool with a full haul of nine points in 2017, but again came unstuck in the semifinals, this time going down 2-0 to eventual champions Zambia.
The Young Flames picked up the bronze medal again though as they beat South Africa 2-1 in the play-off.
The side will be coached for the second year running by Deklerk Msakakuona.