Local women’s football giants DD Sunshine will not take part in the inaugural Cosafa Women’s Champions League scheduled to take place between June and August this year.
The Lilongwe-based club had unveiled plans to contest in the first-ever regional showpiece which will be used as a qualifying event for the women’s Caf Champions League to be staged in Morocco later this year.
However, a Cosafa list released yesterday indicated that eight teams had confirmed their participation in the competition.
The eight are Prison XI from Botswana, Manzini Wanderers of eSwatini, Lesotho’s Defence Force, Costa Do Sol (Mozambique), Namibian side Tura Magic, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies of South Africa, Green Buffaloes Women from Zambia and Black Rhino Queens (Zimbabwe).
The teams will be divided into two groups which will see the top two in each group qualifying for the semifinals. Each team will play a minimum of three matches.
However, the dates and venue for the regional tournament have not been finalised.
Sunshine sponsor Tabitha Chawinga, who is also Malawi national women’s football team captain, expressed surprise with the list of confirmed teams which excludes her side.
“We expressed interest to take part in the competition through Fam [Football Association of Malawi] and we were waiting to hear from them. As clubs, we cannot talk directly to Cosafa. It is our mother body Fam who can speak on our behalf. We do not have a voice. We had all the belief that we could have participated in the competition,” Chawinga, who plays her club football in China, said.
Sunshine are yet to regroup due to Covid restrictions but their players have been training in small groups in preparation for the competition.
Recently, Sunshine management indicated that about K38.5 million was required for the club to participate in the regional showpiece.
The money was for air tickets, accommodation and travel allowances.
Fam General Secretary Alfred Gunda asked for more time before commenting on the matter but National Women’s Football Association Chairperson Suzgo Ngwira said it was a lost opportunity.
“This competition is very important for us if we are serious about giving local players international exposure. Our players could have benefited a lot,” Ngwira said.
Sunshine contribute the bulk of players to the Scorchers. Some of such players are Madyina Ngulube, Ruth Nyirongo, Wezzie Mvula, Sabina Thom and Chimwemwe Madise.
Cosafa General Secretary Sue Destombes said the regional football governing body was excited to stage its maiden Women’s Champions League.
“Adding to our senior women’s championship and the junior events in the Under-17 and Under-20 age groups, this new competition enhances our commitment to women’s football and advancing the sport