COSAFA Under-17 Championships Unearth Another Star

COSAFA Castle Cup

Malawi forward Peter Banda proved a huge hit at the 2016 COSAFA Under-17 Championships, scoring five goals and winning the Golden Boot award as he helped The Flames to third place.

He is the perfect example of why COSAFA promotes development tournaments as a way to offer opportunity to young players, where more are sure to be discovered at the 2017 Under-17 tournament that will be staged in Mauritius again this year from July 21-30.

The 16-year-old Banda comes from fine footballing stock and is the son of the late former Malawi international Chikondi Banda, who played in both the 1999 and 2000 COSAFA Castle Cup senior tournament for The Flames. Son Peter looks set to follow in those footsteps and is the perfect example of a player who has used the platform provided by COSAFA to expose his talent to not just watching fans in Malawi, but the entire region too.

“I am very happy to have finished as top scorer in only my first international tournament, hopefully this is the start of good things to come,” Banda said after winning the Golden Boot in 2016. “I will continue working hard so that I can get better and better.” His form piqued the interest of South African giants Orlando Pirates, and has also seen him elevated to the national Under-20 side, despite his tender age.

He was selected by Malawi for the COSAFA Under-20 Championships that were staged in South Africa in December, though a pre-tournament knee injury stunted his progress there. “I would be delighted to play outside Malawi at a club that would be able to meet all my needs, including paying for my education,” Banda told The Nation. But, perhaps sensibly, he is in no rush to push for a professional career and for him, education is a crucial part of his short-term future.

It is for that reason that his grandfather, Griffin Saenda Snr, has stated that the Banda will not move up to play in the top division in the country for the foreseeable future, despite interest from leading sides Big Bullets, where his father played, Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers.

“We will release him if we get international offers from academies of good teams. His talent is raw but it needs to be nurtured. We should not rush him into the [Malawi] Super League,” Saenda Snr told The Times.

For a talent such as Banda though, there should be no rush. He has continued to develop as a fine player in the country’s Under-20 league with local side Griffin Young Stars, which is coached by his uncle, Griffin Saenda Jnr. He is still eligible to compete again at the COSAFA Under-17 Championships this year if selected.

Malawi have been drawn in Group A with hosts Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Botswana, while Group B contains South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Defending champions Namibia have opted not to compete in 2017.

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Source: Council of Southern African Football Associations

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