Malawi and Zambia share many things in common but are familiar foes in football circles. This afternoon, Malawi women’s national football team will be aiming to prove a point when dating Zambia in a make or break Cosafa Women’s Championship Group B decider at Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
This is a grudge match as Zambia contributed to Malawi’s elimination from last year’s edition after She-Polopolo controversially drew 0-0 with Botswana. The most painful moment was when She-Polopolo striker Rachael Nachura missed a spot kick in a bizarre way. If the match between Zambia and Botswana had produced a winner, the Scorchers would have booked a semifinal berth as best runners-up but it ended in tears.
But it is over 12 months since that happened and the message is clear, the Scorchers are still licking the wounds. The perfect opportunity has arrived for Malawi to avenge what Zambia did last year.
At stake is also a place in the semifinals of the Cosafa Cup. The Scorchers just need a draw to book a semifinal berth for the first time in nine years due to superior goal difference. Both Malawi and Zambia have three points after beating Lesotho 9-0 and 8-0, respectively.
A victory over Zambia in today’s match, will be important for the Scorchers. Malawi coach Mcnelbert Kazuwa was then assistant coach to Abel Mkandawire when Zambia did the damage to Malawi.
Kazuwa said it was hard to forget last year’s experience.
“Time has come for us to hit them where it hurts most. But we are cautious, it is a very tough match and the players are aware of that. I hope they will follow instructions. We want to reach the semifinal and probably win the Cosafa Cup,” Kazuwa said.
The Scorchers have never reached the final of the Cosafa Cup but reached the semifinals in 2011 when the tournament took place in Zimbabwe. But then the side lost 5-1 to South Africa.
For the Scorchers to reach the semifinals, they must be disciplined against Zambia, a side with quality and experience. Tournament’s top goal scorer Tabitha Chawinga (six goals) will automatically lead Scorchers’ attack alongside young sister Temwa. Samir Amidu is likely to retain her place as goalkeeper with Emily Josam, Patricia Nyirenda, Ruth Nyirongo and Chimwemwe Madise at the back.
Vice Captain Madyina Nguluwe and Zainab Kapanda will also likely retain their places after a solid performance against Lesotho whereas Asimenye Simwaka and Sabina Thom will be operating in the flanks.
On the other hand, Zambia boast of quality and experience after making it to the Olympics and they would want to preserve their credentials. The tournament’s second leading goal scorer Barbra Banda, Grace Chanda, Maylan Mulenga and Prisca Chilufya are carrying Zambia’s hopes.
She-Polopolo coach Bruce Mwape has blended his squad with experience and Upcoming players. Malawi and Zambia last met in 2017 Cosafa Cup but She-Polopolo emerged winners 6-3 in Zimbabwe.