Malawi Women’s National Football Team, the Scorchers, failed to live up to expectations after they started the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup with a 1-1 draw against Botswana at Nelson Mandela University Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The Scorchers are among the few teams that travelled with strong squad at this year’s tournament, including Inter Milan Ladies new striker Tabitha Chawinga.
But the best they did was a draw against a well-disciplined Botswana.
The draw means the Scorchers must win two remaining matches, starting with Comoros Islands on Monday and Tanzania on Wednesday, to book a place in the semifinals.
Defending champions Tanzania top group C after thrashing Comoros Islands in an early kick-off at the same venue.
Botswana are second whereas Malawi are third in the group.
The Scorchers drew first blood after seven minutes when winger Wezzie Mvula headed in a Ruth Nyirongo’s cross from close range.
But the Mares of Botswana were back on level terms in the 28th minute through Gaonyadiwe Ontlametse following poor goalkeeping from Ruth Mhango.
Tabitha, who was named player of the match, failed to find the back of the net as she was tightly marked by Botswana’s defenders.
Tabitha had a chance to grab the three points for Malawi in the closing stages of the match but she blasted her effort over the bar, to the disappointment of Scorchers coach Lovemore Fazili and his backroom staff.
Asimenye Simwaka also wasted a good chance. Fazili was forced to make his first substitution when he brought in Rose Kabzere for Fazila Chembekezo, who had a bad day at the office.
Kabzere brought some life into the Scorchers attack but Botswana were disciplined at the back.
Fazili featured Chawinga and Fazila Chembekezo upfront.
Sabina Thom, Wezzie Mvula, and Madyina Ngulube and Simwaka operated from the midfield.
At the back, Fazili trusted Patricia Nyirenda, Chimwemwe Madise, Ruth Nyirongo and Ireen Nkhumalo whereas Mhango started between the sticks.
In post-match interview, Fazili admitted that his troops wasted several chances.
“We started the game on high and we created several chances but unfortunately, we failed to utilise our chances. Not all is lost, we have to focus on the match against Comoros,” Fazili said.
It was Fazili’s first match in charge of the Scorchers.
Tabitha said it was a tough match.
“We wanted to win the match but Botswana were also good,” Tabitha said.
Winners in each group will advance to the semifinals of the competition and will be joined by the overall best runners-up.
Malawi line up: Mhango, Nyirongo, Ireen Khumalo, Patricia Nyirenda, Chimwemwe Madise, Madyina Ngulube, Asimenye Simwaka, Wezzie Mvula, Tabitha Chawinga, Fazila Chembekezo, Sabina Thom.