End of the road again: hosts Mauritius into semifinals as Malawi falls short

Malawi u-17

Hosts Mauritius will complete the 2018 COSAFA Under-17 Championship semifinal line-up after Malawi failed to get margin of victory they needed to end their Group C campaign as the best runner-up on Wednesday.

Malawi defeated Swaziland 1-0 to finish second in their pool with six points and a goal-difference of +5.

That is the same as Mauritius in Group A, but while Malawi scored six goals in their three matches, the islanders netted seven and so advance on goals-scored to meet Group B winners South Africa in Friday’s semifinals.

It is heartbreak for the Young Flames, who finished third in the last two competitions and now see their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 African Under-17 Championships dashed.

Only the winner of the COSAFA competition will take their place in Tanzania next year, which in turn serves as a qualifier for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru later in the year.

Malawi grabbed their goal through Lovemore Mbeta, but then had to withstand some heavy pressure from Swaziland to claim the win.

Swaziland hit the post through Kendrik Maseko and also forced Malawi goalkeeper Kennedy Nankhaima into a number of fine saves.

The Young Flames could not find the extra strike they needed and so bow out with their heads held high, but fell short of reaching the semifinals.

Group C winners Angola made it three wins from three as they defeated Zimbabwe 2-1 to inflict a third successive defeat on the Young Warriors.

David Nzanza and Abdoul Barri had Angola 2-0 up, but Zimbabwe were brought back into the game by a strike from Tapiwa Mandinyenya.

The semifinal line-up sees South Africa take on Mauritius at the Stade St Francois Xavier at 12h30 (08h30 GMT) on Friday, with the latter seeking to feature in a second successive final. It is a repeat of last year’s semifinal that was won 2-0 by Mauritius.

Namibia will then take on Angola at 15h30 (11h30 GMT) at the same venue in the second semifinal.

Namibia were the 2016 winners, but Angola have had the best record in the pool stages as the only side to win all three of their matches.

*Information courtesy of Cosafa