Malawi national women football team has vowed to end bouts of despair and put smiles back on the faces of football fans this afternoon with a victory against Mozambique in a 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers’ first-leg at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
China-based Malawi captain Tabitha Chawinga yesterday said they are looking for nothing short of a victory knowing that they are Malawi football’s last hope of qualifying for a prestigious international competition this year after the men’s senior Flames and Under-23 side were booted out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Olympic qualifiers, respectively.
“Malawi football lovers have suffered enough torture and they need a pain relief. Let them come to the stadium in their large numbers to witness our capabilities,” said the prolific striker for Chinese top-flight league outfit, Jiangsu Sunning.
Statistically, the Mozambicans are better than Malawi as they are 145 on the latest Fifa women’s rankings table, two ahead of Malawi. However, both have a balanced record in their last three outings as each won one game and lost two at the 2018 Cosafa Women’s Championships. In their last game, Mozambique lost 0-3 to Zambia while Malawi went down 0-6 to South Africa.
But national team coach Abel Mkandawire said the Mozambicans will be no match against the Malawi side that has professional strikers in Tabitha and her younger sister Temwa, who plays for Swedish club Kvarnsvedens IK.
He added that they will be a formidable side with the backing of the home crowd, considering that entry into the stadium will be free.
“Mozambique is only better on paper as we have more advantages. With top-class strikers at our disposal and home-ground advantage, we have all the reasons to win the match. Our target is to score as many goals as possible so that we do not to struggle in our return match away,” Mkandawire said.
Tabitha won the 2018 Women Footballer of the Year and Golden Boot Award in China with 17 goals and is so far leading the scorers’ chart in the 2019 Chinese National Women Cup with 12 goals in four matches while Temwa emerged as second best striker in the Swedish second-tier league with 21 goals, just a goal behind the eventual golden boot winner.
During Malawi’s last strength-testing match against men’s side Kings FC which ended three-all on Monday, Tabitha scored a hat-trick.
When the Chawinga sisters last donned the national team uniform over a year ago, they emerged as the country’s best scorers during the 2017 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Women’s Championship, having notched eight and four goals, respectively.
Tabitha was also the competition’s second best scorer as she was just two goals behind eventual Golden Boot Award winner Rutendo Makore of Zimbabwe.
Mozambique coach Muhadji Rachide, who arrived with his charges on Tuesday, said they know Malawi is not an easy side to beat with the Chawinga sisters on board, but they will do their best to be victorious. n