Malawi national women’s football team is out of the 2020 Cosafa Women’s Championship after a dramatic 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Banyana Banyana at Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, South Africa.
It was a result that broke the hearts of local fans after the Scorchers’ excellent performances in the opening two games of the competition.
Malawi started the regional showpiece with a resounding 9-0 demolition of Lesotho before edging tournament favourites Zambia 1-0.
But South Africa proved too good for the Scorchers and dashed their hopes of making it to their first ever Cosafa Women’s Championship finals since the competition was introduced in 2002.
Playing with a numerical disadvantage for the better part of the match following the issuance of a red card to first choice goal keeper Samir Amidu, the Scorchers were torn apart in the second half as South Africa hammered in six goals.
Malawi only managed two goals through Chawinga sisters Tabitha and Temwa.
Substitute goalkeeper Mercy Sikelo and the defence of Patricia Nyirenda, Emily Josam, Chimwemwe Madise and Ruth Nyirongo made a number of errors in the first half but the hosts could not take advantage of that.
South Africa reorganised themselves in the second half and converted six times from eight shots that went on target.
Banyana Banyana youthful striker Hilda Magaia hammered a second half hat-trick, with Mapula Kgoale netting a brace whereas Sibulele Holweni scored the other goal to take her tally to seven in the competition.
Scorchers Coach McNebert Kazuwa maintained the side that featured in the group stages and scored 10 goals in just two matches.
However, Kazuwa was forced to make a change in the first half when Amidu was shown a straight red card for a foul on Magaia on the edge of the box.
Striker Asimenye Simwaka was sacrificed for Sikelo to take up Amidu’s place.
The numerical disadvantage did not discourage the Scorchers who kept fighting like wounded buffaloes.
Their never-say-die spirit saw them continue to threaten the hosts, Temwa forcing South Africa goalkeeper Andile Dlamini to make a desperate save.
Zainab Kapanda had a chance to register her name on the scoresheet but she shot the ball wide.
South Africa will meet neighbours Botswana in the final tomorrow at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, one of the venues of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Botswana beat Zambia 2-1 to advance to the final. Malawi and Zambia will be heading home as the competition has no third place play-off.
Devasted Kazuwa said the red card made life difficult for his troops who are without a win against South Africa in five matches.
“We never thought that something drastic would befall us. The red card killed our spirit but what is encouraging is that we can draw some positives from this competition. Reaching the semifinal is a motivation in itself. It has taken us nine years to come this far. We will go back to the drawing board and come back stronger next time,” he said.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was excited with the result.
“We brought a very young squad and I am very proud of the girls,” Ellis said.
Meanwhile, Tabitha kept her golden boot dreams alive when she scored her seventh goal of the tournament.
The China-based star forward is tied with South Africa’s Holweni, who also netted her seventh goal yesterday.