Malawi women’s national football team, the Scorchers, have never made it past the group stages of the Cosafa Women’s Championship for the past three editions, but coach McNelbert Kazuwa is confident that this time the team’s fortunes are about to change.
The last time Malawi made it past group stages was in 2011 when they lost 3-0 to tournament guests Tanzania in the semi-finals.
The competition returned after a six-year break, but the Scorchers three times in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were eliminated in group stages.
But Kazuwa said this year could be Malawi’s turning point after assembling a squad that is capable of making it past the semi-finals if not all the way to the final.
He said: “We called 35 players into camp. Two did not turn up so we had 33 players, including two professionals. So we had training with the 33 players, the other two professional players joined us on October 29.
“After our assessment, we released eight players and we remained with 25. We have released five more players so that we have 20 who we are taking on board. Have trust in these 20 players. They are capable of representing the country well. They are good.”
Kazuwa is banking his hopes on Chawinga sisters—Temwa and captain Tabitha—who will be representing their country after missing the past three editions due to club commitments.
“The coming of the two sisters is a big boost for us. It’s a motivation to other players as well. As a coach, I am also happy to have them,” he said.
Tabitha said she is excited to return to the Cosafa Championship after failing to participate in the past three years.
“We want to win the championship. I also want to score more goals and I trust in God that we will make it,” she said.
However, Tabitha said team work would be key to success.
“National team is not just about Tabitha and Temwa. We need work hard as a team,” she said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) technical director John Kaputa said he has faith in the team.
“I had a motivational talk with the technical panel as well as the players to prepare them psychologically. I am confident that the team will do well at the tournament,” he said.
The team flies out to South Africa for championship scheduled between 3-14 November in Nelson Mandela Bay through Kamuzu International Airport today.
The tournament kicked off yesterday with E-swatini (formerly Swaziland) facing Comoros while hosts South Africa played Angola.
However, the Scorchers will start this year’s group stages campaign against Lesotho on Saturday November 7 before facing Zambia two days later.
Last year, the Scorchers beat Madagascar 2-1, lost to South Africa 3-1 before whipping Comoros 13-0 to finish as their group’s runners up.
The team’s hopes of making it to the semis rested in Zambia beating Botswana.
But the game ended in a draw after a Zambian player missed a penalty for the two teams to tie and qualify for the semis.
Following is the full squad: Goalkeepers: Mercy Sikelo, Samir Amidu; Defenders: Chimwemwe Madise, Emily Jossam, Maureen Phiri, Patricia Nyirenda, Ruth Nyirongo, Saliva January, Tiwonge Phiri; Midfielders: Madyina Nguluwe, Chikondi Gondwe, Limbikani Chikupira, Sabinah Thom, Salome Vinkhumbu, Wezzie Mvula, Zainab Kapanda; Strikers: Asimenye Simwaka, Mary Chavinda, Tabitha and Temwa.