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Whistle of honour

4 female referees ready for South Africa, Algeria tie

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Local female referees continue to hog the international scene after four have been picked to officiate the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) qualifier today in South Africa.

Centre referee Mercy Kayira will take charge of the 2022 Wafcon second round match between South Africa and Algeria set for Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg.

Kayira will officiate the match alongside first assistant referee Bernadettar Kwimbira and second assistant referee Eliza Sichinga. Eness Gumbo will be the fourth official.

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This is the first time for Kayira, Sichinga and Gumbo to take charge of such a high-profile match as they have previously been involved in Cosafa matches only.

Despite being her first high-profile match, Kayira said she was prepared to deliver and promised to handle the game without pressure.

“This came as a surprise to me and I did not believe that I had been appointed for such a big match. The rules of the game are the same regardless of the level; so, I am well prepared for the match mentally, technically and physically. I believe in my team and, come tomorrow, we are going to do a very good job and make Malawi proud,” Kayira said.

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On her part, Kwimbira said she was confident her compatriots would deliver at the top level.

“We win it as a team and we are ready. Physically we were busy preparing for a series of fitness tests in Malawi (I had mine Saturday—the other ladies have theirs this coming Sunday).

“We have also been technically busy, having practical sessions and reading the Laws of the Game, as we prepare for TNM 2022 season. I am sure all of us are psychologically ready,” she said.

Kwimbira, who is the most exposed having officiated games at international competitions, admitted it was a crucial tie for all the parties.

“It is a big match featuring big teams. One has to go to the final tournament in Morocco in July and the other team will have to live to fight for the 2024 tournament. We know what awaits us and we will not disappoint,” she said.

Other match officials for the tie include Commissioner Puseletso Mokhosi (Lesotho), Referees Assessor Sabelo Maphosa- Sibindi (Zimbabwe) and Sibiniso Goodman Dlamini (Covid Officer).

The aggregate winner between South Africa and Algeria will qualify for the 2022 TotalErnegies Wafcon.

Local female referees have been outstanding during international tournaments recently.

Two years ago, Sichinga also officiated the Under-17 Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa.

Kwimbira was also part of the officiating panel at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.

Last year, the National Referees Association (NRFA) hailed the performance of three local referees at the Cosafa Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The three were Kayira, assistant referee Happiness Mbandambanda and referee assessor Martha Nyekanyeka.—Additional reporting Fam Media, Patuma Tonex

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