Winning was the only option after the Flames lost to Harambee Stars—U-20 coach Bob Mpinganjira

* When Malawi seniors lost, we were bitter. It was very painful. We didn’t want to lose as well

* We were playing with an experienced side who are 2023 CECAFA Cup runners-up

By Duncan Mlanjira

After beating Kenya 3-1 to lift the Under-20 version of the 4-Nations Tournament, coach Bob Mpinganjira said winning was the only option to appease the nation after the bitter 0-4 loss suffered by the Flames against Kenya’s Harambee Stars the previous day.


He is quoted by as saying: “When Malawi seniors lost to Kenya, we were bitter. It was very painful. We didn’t want to lose as well.”

Played at Silver Stadium on Lilongwe, the victory was indeed a sweet revenge and the junior Flames have won the tournament with a clean record, having also gotten the better of Zimbabwe 3-2 in the opening match.

Mpinganjira said the match against Kenya, who are 2023 CECAFA Cup runners-up, was a tough one: “We were playing with an experienced side. I am glad that my boys put up a gallant fight and we have won the this tournament.”

Emmanuel Saviel, Chifuniro Kamenya and Madalitso Safuli were on target for the Malawi while Stars juniors scored their consolation through Dalphane Ezekiah.

Savieli netted the opener in the 36th minute before Kamenya doubled the lead in first-half added on time.

Ezekiah reduced the deficit in the 64th minute but Safuli added another one for Malawi in added on time.

Mpinganjira applauded FAM for organising tournament, saying it helped immensely to keep the team active: “We only trained for two weeks and the boys’ fitness level was not good.The team has played two games against Zimbabwe and Kenya which are very good teams. Usually, we rely on COSAFA tournaments. This was good.”

The 4-Nations tournament was organised to present a valuable opportunity for the four teams to prepare for their upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2025 AFCON qualifying campaigns.

Meanwhile, the final between Zimbabwe and Kenya and third place play-off between the Flames and Zambia’s Chipolopolo is set for tomorrow both games at Bingu National Stadium.

The Chipolopolo also lost 5-6 to Zimbabwe on post–match penalties in the semifinal following a two-all draw regulation time with goals from Zambia coming from Stoppila Suzu after two minutes and Cletus Chama (20′) while the Brave Warriors scored through Bonne Macauley Miles (26′) and Musona Walter Tatenda (43′).

After the semifinal on Saturday, Flames coach Patrick Mabedi attributed the loss against Kenya to not being active since November when they played two matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Africa qualifiers.

Thus Mabedi said his charges were affected by pre-season blues, saying: “This team didn’t play a competitive match prior to the tournament. The preseason also affected our preparations.

“Today, we started sluggishly, we were too static — in fact we didn’t show up in the first 25 minutes or so.

“When we started to get back, we had already conceded two goals. It’s not an excuse as we need to start finding solutions,” he is quoted as saying by

Malawi’s Group H opponents for 2026 FIFA World Cup are Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Liberia and São Tomé e Principe while Kenya are in Group F with Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, The Gambia, Burundi and Seychelles.

Zimbabwe are in Group C alongside Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda and Lesotho with Zambia in Group E with Morocco, Congo, Tanzania, Niger and Eritrea.

Weather update

The qualifying matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup started in November and will resume in June in which the Flames are on 3rd position having beaten Liberia 1-0 away in Monrovia before losing by same margin against Tunisia here at home.

The Flames tie on 3 points with Namibia but Namibia are on second position on goal difference while Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia tie on six points after registering two wins in Match Day 1 & 2 in November but Tunisia are at the top having a goal difference of 5 against Equatorial Guinea’s two.

Equatorial Guinea first overcame Namibia 1-0 and Liberia also 1-0 while Tunisia first beat São Tomé e Principe 4-0 before beating the Flames 1-0 with Namibia seeing off Sao Tome e Principe 2-0.

After June, the next qualifying matches for Flames’ Group H will be in 2025 (March, September, October and November).