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Return of Tabitha

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By Mphatso Malidadi:

Malawi women’s national football team foreign-based stars Tabitha and Temwa Chawinga arrived in the country yesterday through Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.

The development is good news for national coach Abel Mkandawire as he now has all his best players for the two back-to-back 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers against Mozambique early next month.

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The Chawinga sisters were conspicuously missing from the She-Flames team that failed to go beyond the group stages in the 2018 Women’s Cosafa Cup in Port Elizabeth. South Africa, as their clubs did not release them.

Immediately the pair completed immigration procedures at the airport, it went straight to join their teammates at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, where they have been training for the past two weeks.

The China-based Tabitha said Malawi has the capacity to reach the next round of the qualifiers.

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“We just need to play as a unit. We need to play an attacking game. From what I have been hearing, my colleagues have been training hard all along and are geared for the match. I do not know much about women’s football in Mozambique but I believe we can make it to the next round,” said the Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning prolific forward.

Tabitha, who scooped three awards in her debut season in China, said Malawi must impress to erase last year’s disappointing showing in the Cosafa Cup.

On her part, Temwa, who plies her trade with Kvarnsvedens IK in Sweden, said she wanted to help the team qualify for the Olympic Games.

“I have gained valuable experience in Sweden and believe it is possible for me to help Malawi shine,” she said.

Mkandawire described the duo’s arrival as timely, saying it had boosted morale in camp.

“We will now concentrate on our game plan, which centres on utilising home-ground advantage. We are currently dwelling much on playing against men’s sides to help the team gain the required fitness for an international match,” he said.

The Mozambique encounters will be Mkandawire’s first assignment after he took over from Maggie Chombo-Sadik, who is now the Technical Adviser.

The two neighbouring countries’ teams will first meet at Kamuzu Stadium on April 4 before clashing again in the return match in Maputo some four days later.

Tabitha and Temwa last played for Malawi during the 2017 Women’s Cosafa Cup in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where Malawi failed to go beyond the preliminary round.

The two sisters scored most of Malawi’s goals in the regional showpiece, with Tabitha hitting the net nine times.

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