Malawi women’s national football team has a chance to sneak into the semi-finals of the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship despite going down 3-1 to hosts and defending champions South Africa’s Banyana Banyana in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
They remain second in Group A with three points ahead of their last Group A fixture against whipping girls Comoros on Monday, but realistically they will be banking on qualifying as the overall best loser since Banyana Banyana, who lead the group with six points, are tipped to finish as group winners.
The hosts face Madagascar in their last game also on Monday. The islanders are tied on three points with Malawi following their 5-1 victory over Comoros who anchor the group with no point.
Malawi coach Abel Mkandawire refused to fly the white flag, insisting that despite the loss, his charges should not be counted out.
“We are still in contention. We have our last group match against Comoros on Monday and I believe the result will be crucial in determining our fate,” he said.
Mkandawire also hailed the girls for punching above their weight to give Banyana Banyana a good run for their money.
“South Africa is not an ordinary team, they were at the World Cup, but my girls showed courage and undying determination from start to finish.
“We have proven a point that we are not far off,” he said.
In a match monitored on Digital Satelite Television (DStv) SuperSport channel 9, Malawi gave the hosts a scare when they surged ahead in the fourth minute through Asimenye Simwaka with a strike of utter beauty.
A sweet touch from Wezzi e+Mvula saw Simwaka cooly slotting the ball in between the legs of advancing Banyana Banyana ‘keeper Kaylin Swat into the net. No panic, no fuss.
Chikondi Gondwe looked to double the tally on 10 minutes, but hit the top of the woodwork with a looping shot from outside the box.
Sensing danger the hosts forced Malawi into rearguard action, but the defence marshalled by Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, stood firm until the 35th minute when Banyana equalised through an equally virtuoso strike from Lebohang Ramalepe, whose magnificently executed curling chip from a short corner, gave ‘keeper Samir Amidu not a prayer.
Amidu, who suffered an injury in the first half, was taken off stage for Mercy Sikelo.
Banyana Banyana went on to take the lead in the 67th minute when substitute Noxol Cesane pounced on a loose ball to find the bottom corner from close-range.
They sealed their victory with six minutes to full time when Amanda Mthandi combined with Refiloe Jane to tap home from the far side.
Malawi’s line up: Amidu (Sikelo), Maureen Phiri, Chimwemwe Madise, Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, Patricia Nyirenda, Chikondi Gondwe, Salome Vinkhumbo, Sabina Thom, Wezzie Mvula (Shira Dimba), Simwaka and Linda Kasenda (Zainab Kapanda).