After an impressive start to their 2019 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship on Saturday, the Junior Flames met their match when they gave away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to Eswatini on Monday afternoon.
The hosts started brightly as they dominated through their attacking trio of Chikumbutso Salima, Festus Duwe and Noel Sakala but to unlock the visitors’ defense proved too futile as Lesotho defended jealously to frustrate the home fans.
The visitors had masterminded Malawi’s attacking options and they opted to sit back to play behind the ball in order to punish the hosts through counter attacks.
However, Malawi kept on pushing and they had several shots at goal through Sakala, Mike Thomu and Frank Mahowa but Siyabonga Magagula was equal to the tasks as he produced stunning saves to frustrate the hosts.
Every attempt at goal in the half either landed in the hands of Magagula or saved for safety by the young shot-stopper.
In the second half, Malawi kept on dominating possession but Magagula meant business as he kept Eswatini in the game with his fantastic saves.
However, Magagula’s stubbornness couldn’t last longer as he failed to stop Sakala’s perfect shot from the left flank of the field and the ball kissed the back of the net, 1-0.
The hosts should have added another goal but Magagula was forced into making another brilliant save to deny Thomu from finding the back of the net.
Both teams made some changes to their squads, with Malawi bringing on board Chifundo Mbofana for Thomu while Eswatini brought in Bongani Mhlanga for Mukelo Nkambule.
Just seven minutes after Malawi’s opener, the visitors pulled level through Colani Dvuba who unleashed a shot from the edge of the box into the far corner to beat Wongani Chimkomde in goal for Malawi.
Eswatini then found their winning goal through Khayalethu Zitha who headed in from a Bongani Mhlanga’s fine cross from the right flank of the field.
The visitors then made a double change, introducing Phumlani Shongwe and Sakhile Mkhonta for Njabuliso Mkhatshwa and Zitha.
The hosts tried their level best to force a point from the game but the visitors stood firm to collect their first three points and to keep their semifinal hopes alive.
In another result, Group leaders Zambia demolished South Africa 7-0 to progress to the semifinals of the competition.
The highest scoring team, with 13 goals so far, found the back of the net through Miguel Chaiwa, Joseph Banda, Moses Mulenga, Charles Mumba, Peter Chikola and a brace from Rickson Ng’ambi.
The result means South Africa have been eliminated alongside Lesotho.
Group B matches will be completed on Tuesday when Comoros takes on Angola while Mozambique will host Lesotho.