Three China-based women football stars Malawi’s Chawinga sisters Tabitha and Temwa as well as Zambia’s Barbara Banda will be thrust into the spotlight when the Scorchers face Zambia’s Shepolopolo in a potentially explosive Cosafa Women’s Championship clash in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.
The trio is considered among the best in the Chinese women’s top-flight, having guided their respective teams to top three-finish.
Temwa guided her team Wuhan to their first title and finished as the league’s second top scorer while Tabitha helped her team to a second-place finish and is the reigning Chinese women’s Footballer of the Year. On the other hand, Shepolopolo’s Banda won the Golden Boot Award with 18 goals.
The Scorchers go into this contest, which kicks off at 12.30pm, sitting pretty at the summit of Group B with three points courtesy of a slight better goal difference over Shepolopolo, also known as the Copper Queens.
They showed no mercy in the destruction of Lesotho in their opening game on Saturday whom they swept aside with contemptuous ease with a 9-0 thumping courtesy of Tabitha’s clinical goal-scoring instincts which left the Basotho stunned.
The prolific forward netted half a dozen goals and was named Player-of-the-Match.
Lesotho were also on the receiving end in their opening fixture last Wednesday when they were clobbered 8-0 by Zambia.
Such is the luxury for the Scorchers that a draw will see them qualify for the semi-finals, but in an interview yesterday, Tabitha said they will be out to scorch Shepolopolo.
“Being a decider, it will be a tough match and one that we cannot afford to lose.
“To us, this will be a final and a chance to prove that we have now come of age,” said the tournament’s leading scorer.
The 2019 Chinese Super League golden boot winner said they are not scared of the Zambians.
“The win over Lesotho has given us a big boost, but at the same time, we realise that this will be a different game altogether. Nevertheless, we are ready,” said Tabitha.
Statistically, Zambia are favourites, having won their last competitive match 6-3 against Malawi in the same competition three years ago.
Scorchers coach McNelbert Kazuwa said the focus has been to prepare her charges psychologically.
“We have to drum into the girls that they can do it so long as they have self-belief and execute our game plan to perfection.
“We’ll also have to put in extra effort and work on our shortfalls such as keeping the ball and working as a unit,” he said.
The Copper Queens’ assistant coach Beauty Mwamba, who has been part of the set-up for a number of years, said they are looking forward to today’s showdown
“A match between us and Malawi is always intense at any level and it won’t be an easy match. Malawi have assembled a very strong team and in the Chawinga sisters, they have some of the best players on the continent
“Last year, it was unfortunate we did not win, [having lost 1-0 to South Africa in the final], but this year we are determined to go a step forward and that means to win.
“We know it will not be easy, we have three players not with us here, two in Spain and one in Israel. But that means it is an opportunity for other players to be on this stage,” she was quoted as having said by lusakatimes.com.
Defending champions South Africa’s Banyana Banyana have already sealed their place in the semifinals as the top team in Group A following their back-to-back wins and face Comoros Islands.