The Malawi national under 17 football team fought tooth and nail to force a 2-all draw against Botswana in their 2020 Cosafa youth championship opener at Gelvandale Stadium in South Africa on Friday.
This was also the first match involving Group B teams which also includes defending champions Zambia and Comoros.
The junior Flames scored the opener in the 12th minute through Ronald Mapulanga to give the Deklerk Msakakuona technical panel hopes for an impressive start.
Trouble for Malawi came after referee sent out the team’s defender Cliff Mbewe for a foul 22 minutes into play, which saw Kgotso Thlowe capitalise and score two minutes into first-half added time.
Botswana’s Tlotlo Kgaolo worsened the situation for the 10-man Malawi when he scored the second eight minutes before final whistle.
The Msakakuona’s boys were handed a relief at 90 minutes when they were handed a penalty which McDonald Chiwanda, realising how crucial it was, could not miss.
Odds favoured Botswana as they were in possession 51-49 percent at the end of the match, but Malawi’s captain, Andrew Lameck was named the man of the match.
Next for Malawi is Zambia on Monday before they face Comoros.
Group A has Zimbabwe, Angola, Eswatini and hosts South Africa.
The first match results in group B: Zimbabwe 1-1 Angola, South Africa 2-2 Eswatini.
This year’s competition is also being used as qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations.