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 on Saturday.
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 equalized 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 curle4d 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 fulltime.
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.
Defending champions Angola have brought an entirely new squad to this year’s tournament and face the potential of an early exit unless they can get one over Lesotho. The match kicks off at 11h00 local time (09h00 GMT).
The second match sees Mozambique and Comoros and the victor, if there is to be one, will take a giant step towards the semifinals.
A drew would suit Angola and Lesotho the most, but both teams will no doubt go all out for the win. The game is at 14h00 local time (12h00 GMT).
Zambia 6 (Mulenga 5’, Ng’ambi 15’, Songa 45’, Chirwa 32’pen, Kumwenda 60’, Mumba 86’) Eswatini 0
Malawi 3 (Thomu 45’, Tobias 53’, 58’) South Africa 0
11h00: Angola vs Lesotho – Mpira Stadium
14h00: Mozambique vs Comoros – Mpira Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Zambia 1 1 0 0 6 0 3
Malawi 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
South Africa 1 0 0 1 0 3 0
Eswatini 1 0 0 1 0 6 0
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Comoros 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Mozambique 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Angola 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Lesotho 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Matches Played: 4
Goals scored: 11
Biggest victory: Zambia 6 Eswatini 0 (Group A, October 12)
Most goals in a game: 6 – Zambia 6 Eswatini 0 (Group A, October 12)
2 goals – Dave Tobias (Malawi)
1 – Miguel Chirwa (Zambia), Julius Kumwenda (Zambia), Kamal Kifli (Comoros), Moses Mulenga (Zambia), Charles Mumba (Zambia), Rickson Ng’ambi (Zambia), Chipyoka Songa (Zambia), Mike Thomu (Malawi), Aylot Zerefos (Mozambique)