12 December 2022 – While disappointed that his charges did not win the men’s football competition at the Region 5 Games in Lilongwe, Malawi, national Under-17 coach Duncan Crowie is proud of the way his players performed during the COSAFA tournament.

Crowie’s charges suffered a 0-1 defeat to Zambia in the final of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations COSAFA qualifier tournament on Sunday night, 11 December 2022 in a result that was bitter-sweet. The coach was disappointed to lose in the final but was also happy that his team achieved their objective of qualifying for the U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria next year.

South Africa and Zambia secured their tickets to the continental tournament in Algeria in April next year when they won their respective semifinals to reach the final in Lilongwe.

“This is definitely not the result we wanted. Everybody plays to win, especially in a final. Walking off with the trophy and the gold medal is what everybody wants to do in football or any other sport for that matter,” Crowie said.

“But I am proud of the boys and they did very well throughout the tournament. Many people did not expect us to get this far, put on a show against Zambia in the final and give them a run for their money. We could have got a goal towards the end of the match, but it was not to be.

“We will take the positives from the tournament, reinforce them, then look at the negatives and see how we can improve going forward.”

South Africa dominated the tournament individual awards and irrepressible striker Siyabonga Mabena won both the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament accolades after finishing with nine goals in Lilongwe. His compatriot and teammate Gennaro Johnson walked away with the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Mabena set the pitch alight in Malawi and Crowie said he proved his quality during the COSAFA tournament.

“He must remain the person he is because he is a quality player, and this will always be with him. He must not change as a person. We have seen so many top players who ended up falling by the wayside due to a lack of a good attitude. I hope he stays the same person he is because he has a very good attitude.”