Malawi will hope to exit the group stages at the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023 | COSAFA Qualifier for the first time since 2011 when they take part in Eswatini from October 7-16.
The Young Flames might fancy their chances too having been in drawn in Group C alongside South Africa, Namibia and Comoros.
They are all tough matches, but winnable from the team’s perspective with only the top side in each pool and the best-placed runner-up advancing to the semifinals.
Malawi will see this as a crucial chance to stake a claim for continental glory. The finalists in Eswatini will earn a place at the TotalEnergies AFCON U20 Egypt 2023, where the top four teams in turn qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia next year.
Malawi have qualified for the AFCON U20 on one occasion, finishing in the group stages in Ethiopia in 1999 when they lost all three games.
They finished a credible fourth in the COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championships tournament in Botswana in 2011 having not played in the previous two installments of the competition, and then did not appear again in 2013.
They returned in 2016, but could not make it past the first round, as a draw and a loss meant they finished second in their three-team pool.
They came closer in 2017, gaining five points, but missing out on top spot in their pool on goal-difference to Uganda.
There was more frustration in 2018 as the side finished bottom of their pool with just a single point from three games after losses to Zambia and Central African guest nation DR Congo, and a draw with Mozambique.
They improved in Zambia in 2019, beating Comoros (4-0) in their opener, but a draw with Botswana (2-2) and a loss to the hosts (2-1) meant they did not advance.
Their last appearance in 2020 was also a tough outing as they won only one of their three games, against Comoros (1-0), before losses to Namibia (2-1) and Zambia (2-0) to exit in the group phase.
Malawi have yet to win the regional showpiece competition, but did reach the final in 2003 when they lost out to Zambia in the decider.
The side last made it out of their group 11 years ago, but lost 4-2 to Angola in the semifinals and were then beaten 1-0 by hosts Botswana in the third-place play-off. They did manage third in 1986.
MALAWI FINISHES IN LAST 23 YEARS
1999 – Group stages
2000 – Fourth
2001 – Quarterfinals
2002 – Quarterfinals
2003 – Runners-up
2004 – Group stages
2005 – Group stages
2006 – Fourth
2007 – Group stages
2008 – Group stages
2009 – Did not enter
2010 – Did not enter
2011 – Fourth
2013 – Did not enter
2016 – Group stages
2017 – Group stages
2018 – Group stages
2019 – Group stages
2020 – Group stages