Mozambique and the Comoros Islands got their 2019 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship off to the perfect start with victories on day one in Blantyre, Malawi.
Mozambique saw off defending champions Angola 1-0 with an excellent effort in an entertaining game that showcased the talents of both teams.
They made the perfect start when captain Aylot Zerefos headed home from a corner inside the first three minutes in front a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd at the Mpira Stadium.
Simon Gopal almost made it 2-0 when he shot wide after Angola had failed to clear a long ball, goalkeeper Cristovão made an outstanding stop to deny the header from the Mozambique forward, who was causing all sorts of trouble.
Angola nearly got the equaliser early in the second period when good inter-play between Inga and Manjolo provided a cross into the Mozambican box, where Domingos’s effort was saved for a corner.
Bruno Castro finds himself one-on-one with the Mozambican goalkeeper Kimiss Zavala, but his chip failed to find the target.
Angola’s Antonio Lopes then fired narrowly over the bar from 30-yards
Comoros made their debut at the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships and started with a victory as they defeated Lesotho 1-0 in the earlier match.
It was an historic moment for the islanders and came following a goal on 15 minutes by Kamal Kifli, who was set free by a fine pass from Hamis M’sa.
The game was a physical encounter with both teams showing tremendous desire to get on top in a tough midfield battle.
Moqolisi Mothae should perhaps have equalised for Lesotho when he stole the ball off Yssouf Ismael, but his shot was straight at Comoros goalkeeper Mmadi Mohamed.
Tumisang Nkubu also saw his shot go wide for Lesotho, while at the other end there was a late chance for M’sa as he narrowly failed to connect with Abdallah Maoulida’s pass.
The action will continue on Saturday when Group A gets underway, including a potentially titanic tussle between hosts Malawi and South Africa at the Mpira Stadium (kick-off 14h00 local; 12h00 GMT).
Both teams will be desperate to get a win in what appears to be a tight group, and Malawi might fancy their chances with homeground advantage.
South Africa have appeared in six of the previous seven finals in this competition though and seem to always bring strong squads to the event.
The action will start with the earlier match when 2017 winners Zambia host Eswatini at the same venue (11h00 local; 09h00 GMT).
Eswatini were late entrants after Botswana pulled out, but are always competitive and will be a stern early test for the powerful Zambians.
Lesotho 0 Comoros 1 (Kifli 15’)
Angola 0 Mozambique 1 (Zerefos 3’)
11h00: Zambia vs Eswatini – Mpira Stadium
14h00: Malawi vs South Africa – Mpira Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Eswatini 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malawi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zambia 0 0 0 0 0 0 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: 2
Goals scored: 2
Biggest victory: Lesotho 0 Comoros 1 (Group B, October 11); Angola 0 Mozambique 1 (Group B, October 11)
Most goals in a game: 1 – Lesotho 0 Comoros 1 (Group B, October 11); Angola 0 Mozambique 1 (Group B, October 11)
1 goal – Kamal Kifli (Comoros), Aylot Zerefos (Mozambique)