Malawi women football national team’s hope of making it to the Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-finals were crashed yesterday after Zambia offered no favours as they drew 0-0 with Botswana.
The draw at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa means both Zambia and Botswana finished with seven points with the former as Group B winners while Botswana are runners-up and make it as the best losers.
Despite edging Madagascar 2-1 and walloping Comoros 13-0 to finish as Group A runners-up with six points, Malawi needed a favour from Zambia to sneak into the semis.
Just like Malawi, Zambia and Botswana had six points going into the match and a draw was good enough for both teams.
No wonder both teams took it slow and did not show any urgency to score, leaving Malawi hopeless while watching the proceedings from the terraces.
Zambia’s closest chance was when they were awarded a penalty in the box in the 76th minute after a handball in the box.
But joint top goal-scorer Rachael Nachula missed in inexplicable circumstances as her spot-kick went wide, raising questions on Zambia’s intentions.
However, Zambia coach Beauty Mwamba said she was also surprised that her top striker had missed the penalty.
“I am not happy with that. There was just the goalkeeper to beat and she missed like that,” she said in a post-match interview with SuperSport.
Malawi coach Abel Mkandawire on the other hand said he was proud of the players’ overall performance at the tournament.
“You can see that we were in a tough group. We beat Madagascar and Comoros and lost to South Africa. We were just unlucky not to qualify for the semi-finals,” he said, adding that his attention now shifts to the Olympic qualifier against Kenya later this month.
Interestingly, the winner in Group B is supposed to meet the best runners-up, meaning Zambia and Botswana are set for another showdown while South Africa who are Group A winners, will face Zimbabwe who topped Group C.
But Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said there will be another semi-final draw. “The rules and regulations state that the winner in Group A will play the winner in Group C while the winner in Group B will play the best losers. But in the event that a team from Group B qualifiers as best loser, it will be at the desecration of Cosafa to conduct a fresh draw,” he said.