Malawi Under-20 drew 2-2 drew against Botswana in a Group A encounter on Saturday but coach Peter Mponda is optimistic that he can lead the junior Flames to the semi-finals at the ongoing COSAFA Under-20 Youth Championship in Lusaka, Zambia.
Substitutes Chinsisi Maonga and Lanjesi Nkhoma helped Malawi to come from behind and take a lead but Botswana equalised in the dying minutes of the match for the two sides to share the spoils.
The Flames are second in the pool with four points and face hosts and favourites Zambia, who lead the pool with six points, on Monday.
Mponda said though disappointed to drop two points, the vital point had kept them in contention at the tournament.
“I am worried about the two points I dropped. But the point I got just kept us in contention in the tournament,” he said.
The tactician said they would throw it all in the last match against the junior Chipolopolo Boys.
“We face Zambia next. It will be a decider. If we win we get seven points and qualify. So I am grateful for the point we got. I have watched Zambia.
“They have a very good team; strong on the ball. They play long balls. I don’t know if they will change tactics. We just have to close those spaces and ensure that when we attack they don’t get the chance to play those long balls,” he said.
But Mponda said Malawi needs to learn a lesson from the draw against Botswana.
“I think it was a good game. I was impressed with the performance of my boys. But I am disappointed with the result.
“I think Batswana knew our strength, they studied us. Their strength was in counter attacks. It worked for them. As we play Zambia we need to guide against loss of concentration,” he said.
Malawi has never beaten Zambia in this age group. In fact, Zambia is behind Malawi’s failure to make it to the knockout stages in the past 12 years including last year when the Zambians beat Malawi 2-0 in the group stages.