Malawi Women’s National Football Team, the Scorchers, and Zambia’s Copper Queens renew rivalry when they clash in the first leg of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers at Bingu National Stadium this afternoon.
The two sides are familiar foes on the pitch, having met several times in all competitions in recent years.
Malawi and Zambia last met in the Afcon qualifiers in 2012 but the Scorchers were eliminated following a 9-4 loss on aggregate.
However, they also met in the 2020 Cosafa Cup semifinal match where Malawi registered a 1-0 victory courtesy of Temwa Chawinga’s goal.
Both sides will be hoping to build on from their impressive Cosafa Cup performance.
The Scorchers finished as runner-up after losing 1-0 to eventual winners Tanzania whereas Zambia claimed bronze after a 4-3 victory over South Africa.
Scorchers coach McNelbert Kazuwa said the team has what it takes to progress to the next round.
“We expect a tough match against Zambia but we have a special plan for them. The girls are in good mood and we expect them to perform according to instructions,” Kazuwa added.
Kazuwa will likely keep faith in goalkeeper Ruth Mhango whereas Patricia Nyirenda, Chimwemwe Madise, Ruth Nyirongo and Ireen Khumalo will form a rock solid defence.
Captain Madyina Ngulube, Zainab Kapanda, Asimenye Simwaka and Wezzie Mvula will be in midfield. Upfront, gangling forward Fazira Chiyembekezo and Sabina Thom are carrying Scorchers’ hope.
China-based Chawinga sisters Tabitha and Temwa are not available due to Covid travel restrictions.
Copper Queens coach Bruce Mwape said his troops were exercising caution but made it clear that they were planning to get an early goal to unsettle the Scorchers.
“It will be tough because we saw Malawi at Cosafa Cup. After we qualified for Olympics, every team will come hard on us as they want to surprise us,” he said.
The Copper Queens have included two foreign country-based players namely goalkeeper Hazel Nali of Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Israel and SD Eibar (Spain) forward Rachael Kundananji.
Grace Chanda, who had a good Cosafa Cup tournament, is also in the team alongside her Red Arrows team-mate Ochumba Oseke.
Zambia will host Malawi for the return leg at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka next Tuesday. The winner between Zambia and Malawi will face either Tanzania or Namibia in the second and final round of the qualifiers.