Malawi coach Deklerk Msakakuona has named his final 20-man squad for this year’s COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from November 19-29.
The Junior Flames open their campaign against Botswana on Friday, before facing defending champions Zambia two days later. The last group phase match will be on Nov. 25 against Comoros.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals, while the two finalists will qualify for the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations that is scheduled to be played in Morocco.
Malawi have appeared in all but one of the eight previous COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships played and were winners in 2001 as they lifted the trophy on home soil.
Their star of that competition was Robert Ng’ambi, who would go on to have a superb career in South Africa and with the Malawi senior national team.
They breezed through their group on that occasion with wins over Botswana (2-0) and Mauritius (4-0), before defeating Zambia 5-4 in the semifinals.
That set up a decider with South Africa and Malawi prevailed with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline to lift the trophy. They had missed out on a semifinal place in 1994 as they beat Namibia 4-0 and drew with Eswatini (1-1), but lost to Zambia (0-3) and South Africa (0-4).
They skipped the 2002 tournament and reached the semifinals again in 2007. A 6-1 hammering of Botswana was followed by a 1-1 draw with Zambia in the pool stages, before they beat Lesotho (4-0) to book their semifinal place.
There they lost 1-0 to South Africa, and by the same scoreline to Zambia in the bronze-medal match.
Malawi were semifinalists once more in 2016, beating Madagascar (2-1) and Kenya (5-0) in the pool stages. Their result against Zambia (0-3) was annulled after the latter were found guilty of fielding two over-age players.
They were beaten by Namibia on penalties in the semifinals after a 1-1 draw, but did pick up the bronze with a 2-0 win over Kenya.
It was a similar story in 2017 when they won all their group games with victories over Botswana (2-0), Zimbabwe (5-0) and Mauritius (2-0), but then lost 2-0 to Zambia in the Last 4. They again won bronze though with a 2-1 win over South Africa.
Malawi beat Zimbabwe (5-0) and Eswatini (1-0) in the pool stages in 2018, but a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Angola meant they did not make the semifinals.
They also disappointed in 2019, despite a 3-0 victory over South Africa in their opener. The side then lost to Eswatini (2-1) and Zambia (3-2) to exit in the first round.
Malawi have made one appearance at the African Under-17 Championships, which saw them finish fourth in 2009.
That qualified them for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup that year, where they lost all three of their games.
Goalkeepers: Alex Dzimbiri, Justice Mhone, Caleb Chirwa
Defenders: Edward Phiri, Yankho Chitembeya, Innocent Sikwese, Cliff Mbewe, Andrew Lameck, Pilirani Issa
Midfielders: Prince Minandi, Steven Banda, Precious Chamangwana, James Chomba, Renald Mapulanga, McDonald Chiwanda
Strikers: Enock Dumuza, Islam Mayiwa, Chifundo Mphasi, Samson Zakeyu, Timothy Nyasulu