The Malawi women football team yesterday started their campaign on a disappointing note at the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Championship in South Africa following a 0-2 loss to lower-ranked Botswana.
This is the second time in a row for the national team to lose its opening match at the Cosafa tournament and the performance on the pitch lived up to their shambolic preparations that saw them going to the competition without having any strength-testing match.
Now, they must win their next group A match against 139-ranked Madagascar tomorrow and 51-ranked South Africa on Monday to have a realistic chance of progressing to the semi-finals either as group leaders or best losers.
Yesterday, in a match monitored on Kwese’ Television, Malawi played without purpose as they lacked combination play and had some serious defensive errors that cost them the game. The goalkeeper was also equally to blame as she seemingly did not know when to leave the goal-line. At no time did the Malawi players exchange more than two passes without losing the ball.
On the attacking front, it was clear Malawi lacked the services of overseas professional strikers China-based Tabitha Chawinga alongside her Sweden-based younger sister Temwa and Sabina Thom, as the likes of Mary Chabvinda and Bridget Mkuzilire could hardly outpace the slow Botswana defenders.
Malawi’s notable chance came in the 76th minute when substitute Sheila Dimba’s shot in the box went agonisingly wide.
“I am very much confused and disappointed that my charges did not play according to instructions. This was not a tough game,” said the visibly annoyed Malawi coach Maggie Chombo-Sadick in post-match interviews.
Botswana, ranked 137 on Fifa/Coca-Cola world rankings, dictated the affairs right from kick-off, forcing the 130-ranked Malawi on the back foot for the better part of the match as the Zebras scored their first goal in the fifth minute through player-of -the-match Lesebo Keleboge before Lesego Radikakanyo added the second in the 78th minute.
Keleboge tapped the ball past advancing goalkeeper Martha Banda after a wonderful one-two play with Thando Muhlabo while Radikakanyo rounded up the exposed goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation after a long ball from a Botswana clearance.