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Like brothers, like sisters

Scorchers out of Cosafa Cup, fail to match last year’s showing

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Just days after their brothers exited the African Nations Championship after failing to beat Mozambique in the qualifiers, the Malawi Women’s National Football Team added salt to injury by losing 3-1 to Tanzania Wednesday.

The loss effectively ended Malawi’s 2022 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Women’s Championship campaign in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

In a match played at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in the coastal city, Malawi just needed a draw to qualify for the semifinals but it all ended in tears.

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Before the match, the Scorchers were at the top of Group C but they finished third with four points, three behind Tanzania who advanced to the semifinals.

In another match in the same group, Botswana defeated Comoros 5-0 to finish second with five points.

Semifinal matches are scheduled for today with Tanzania facing Zambia whereas South Africa will take on Namibia. Both matches will be played at Isaac Wolfson Stadium.

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The Scorchers’ exit was a huge disappointment as they reached the regional competition’s final last year.

From the very beginning, all factors seemed to be against Malawi in yesterday’s match.

Firstly, coach Lovemore Fazili had to use some dead wood in the starting lineup in a move that did not bear any fruit.

In the absence of star striker and captain Tabitha Chawinga, who returned to her club Inter Milan at the end of the Fifa International Window, Limbikani Chikupira started in her place but was withdrawn for runner-cum-footballer Asimenye Simwaka before the half hour mark.

The substitution brought some life into Scorchers’ attack but it was the Twigga Stars who drew first blood through Donisia Minja who scored from a free kick, beating goalkeeper Ruth Mhango at the near post in the 20th minute.

Malawi stepped up and put Tanzania under pressure in search of an equalizer.

Rose Kabzere found her way into Tanzania’s danger zone but her attempt drew a reflex save from goalkeeper Najiat Idrisa.

At the dot of half time, Diana Msewa doubled Tanzania’s lead with a thunderous strike that gave Mhango no chance.

After the break, Fazili made a double substitution when he brought in Martha Banda and Mary Chabvinda for Mhango and Sabina Thom, respectively.

The move nearly paid dividends as the Scorchers came wave after wave.

The relentless attacks seemed to have finally paid dividends when Fazila Chembekezo found the back of the net but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Idrisa.

Tanzania came back into the game with Opa Tukumbuke putting the game beyond the Scorchers’ reach with a fine strike in the 59th minute. It was game over.

Malawi managed to bag a face saver through Simwaka in a desperate 65th minute comeback attempt.

An opportunity for the Scorchers to further reduce the arrears was wasted when Ireen Khumalo saw Idrissa saving her penalty in the 83rd minute.

In the end, Fazili was a dejected man.

“We started the game slowly and we made life difficult for ourselves. There are many lessons from the tournament,” Fazili said.

Malawi line-up: Mhango, Patricia Nyirenda, Chimwemwe Madise, Ruth Nyirongo, Khumalo, Ngulube, Kabzere, Chikupira, Wezzie Mvula, Sabina Thom, Fazila.

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