Malawi National Women’s Football Team yesterday came from behind to hold Zambia’s Copper Queens 1-1 in a first round first leg of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
The result means Zambia will go into the return leg with an edge courtesy of the away goal.
Fresh from their remarkable run at the Cosafa Women’s Championship where they reached the final, the Scorchers were
needlessly lost possession and were sluggish to counter their pacy opponents. fragile in midfield where they
The visitors would have drawn first blood as early as the fourth minute when they were awarded a penalty following Ruth Nyirongo’s handball in the box.
To the relief of the Scorchers, Elizabeth Mupeso’s spot-kick went wide.
The Copper Queens continued to thrust brightly and it came as no surprise when they took the lead in the 20th minute through captain Grace Chanda.
The way she struck the ball from near the edge of the 18-yard box was utter beauty, giving Malawi’s goalkeeper Ruth Mhango no chance.
With the Scorchers midfield looking out of sorts, the supply lines were cut off as Zambia imposed themselves totally, dominating possession and moving the ball around with purpose and invention.
Malawi only had one attempt at goal in the first half when Sabina Thom’s attempt from close range was kept out by the alert Zambian ‘keeper Catherine Musinda.
The half time pep talk delivered by coach McNelbert Kazuwa remains firmly in the classified category, but suddenly there was renewed purpose in the Scorchers play and it bore immediate fruits when Thom nodded in Asimenye Simwaka’s inviting cross in the 63rd minute .
Malawi would have taken the lead had they been sharp enough in front of goal after creating a number of chances, but it wasn’t to be and it ended in a stalemate.
Kazuwa said he was satisfied with how his charges recovered in the second half.
He said: “We struggled in the first half, but the girls recovered in the second half. They showed mental strength to equalise and had we been sharp enough, we would have scored more.
“Finishing was a challenge and we also struggled in midfield and we will work in those areas ahead of the return leg.”
Zambia coach Bruce Mwape said he was not happy with his players wastefulness.
He said: “We could have scored more than seven goals in this game. We could have ended this contest right here.
“We wasted so many chances. It is unfortunate but sometimes such things happen in football. We just need to be more clinical in the return leg.”
The winner between the two teams will face the winner of the tie between Tanzania and Namibia in the next round.