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SISTERS’ ACT: Tabitha nets 4, sister 2

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This was Malawi Women’s National Football Team in action but in actual fact, it was the show of Chawinga sisters, Tabitha and Temwa, who once again, made the difference at the Cosafa Women’s Championship in Zimbabwe yesterday.

Tabitha grabbed four goals and Temwa a double as Malawi’s She-Flames registered their first win in this Group A qualifying contest at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.

Having lost 6-3 to Zambia on Wednesday at the same venue, Malawi have a must-win tomorrow against hosts and holders, Zimbabwe.

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Zambia and Zimbabwe, who both won in their first games, drew 1-1 yesterday. Only one team will qualify to the semi-finals from the group. Zambia will also take on Madagascar tomorrow.

Yesterday, Malawi just had to win all cost. But it took Madagascar goalkeeper Diana Vero’s save of Elubby Bottomani’s spot-kick in the 15th minute, before Tabitha opened the scoring five minutes later.

Finally, Tabitha breached Madagascar’s high defensive line, outpacing her markers as if they were non-existent before placing the ball into the net.

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A few minutes later, the Islanders’ keeper denied Tabitha when she raced clear in similar fashion.

But there was no stopping the Sweden-based forward in the 36th minute when she finished off her mazy run with a terrific left-foot shot.

Malawi, despite gaps and loose marking in defence and midfield, were in the ascendancy as Temwa’s terrific pace down the right channel and Tabitha’s positioning off the shoulders of Madagascar’s defenders proved deadly.

The first-half seemed over, but Temwa had other ideas as she picked a loose ball that had bounced off Madagascar defenders to volley into the net Malawi’s third goal.

Malawi led 3-0 in the opening half. The She-Flames started the second phase promisingly through Temwa’s neat finish from close range in the 48th minute.

Just when this was expected to be a stroll in the park for Malawi, the islanders’ Captain, Sophie Ireen, led their resurgence.

Ireen pulled one back before Farira added the second. Then the captain for Madagascar made the most of a free-kick to nod in the third goal.

However, just when Malawi looked down, Chawinga provided the way out, against the run of play weaving her magic around Madagascar’s defenders to score in the 86th and 90th minutes.

Tabitha, who emerged as the 12- team championship’s leading scorer with seven goals in two games as of yesterday morning, deservedly walked off the field with the best player award.

In a post-match interview with Kwese Television, Tabitha, who plays for Kvarnsvedens in Sweden, saluted her younger sister for joining her in the goals’ party.

“The game was tough as every team here wants to win, so winning 6-3 was not easy. I am so happy for my sister that she scored,” said the former Lilongwe’s DD Sunshine striker, who has scored 12 goals in 10 games for country.

Malawi Coach, Stuart Mbolembole, in a post-match interview, was happy with the result but certainly not the defending.

“I think there is still room for improvement. We are able to score but we are still vulnerable at the back. We hope to come flat out against Zimbabwe and keep alive our chances of qualifying,” Mbolembole said.

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