Malawi women’s football icon Tabitha Chawinga marked her return to the Cosafa Championship with a phenomenal performance, netting six goals as merciless Scorchers whitewashed Lesotho 9-0 in their opening match at the Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
The Jiangsu striker, who was returning to the regional women’s football fiesta after missing the last two editions due to club commitment, is now the top-scorer followed at a distance by Zambia’s Barbara Banda with three goals.
Coach McNelbert Kazuwa’s system had Samir Amidu in goal, DD Sunshine’s Chimwemwe Madise on the left back; her teammate Ruth Nyirongo as right back while Skippers’ Emily Jossam and Ntopwa’s Patricia Nyirenda were in central defence.
DD Sunshine’s Sabina Thom played on her usual left wing while Karonga FC’s Asimenye Simwaka was deployed on her traditional right wing.
DD Sunshine’s Madinya Nguluwe and Blantyre Zero’s Zainabu Kapanda controlled the central midfield.
The system gave Kazuwa’s charges a lot of options either to break from the wings or in the middle of the park where Wuhan’s Temwa Chawinga playing a free role, fed her sister Tabitha from all angles.
Malawi was already six up at half-time with midfielder Kapanda scoring the opener just a minute into the lively match after being fed a pass from Tabitha.
Tabitha doubled the lead four minutes later before setting up her sister Temwa to make it 3-0 in the 11th minute.
The former DD Sunshine striker claimed a brace in the 23rd minute and a hat-trick in the 45th minute from the spot after Palesa Lillian Mpeta mowed down Thom in the box.
She added one in added on time as the first stanza ended 6-0.
The first-half started like the first as it rained goals as well soon after resumption.
Asimenye made it 7-0 in the 56th minute; then Tabitha showed her hunger for more goals with a classical finish and added another one to make it 9-0.
For her performance Tabitha was named player of the match.
“I am happy and I thank God. Without God we could not have made it,” she said.
However, the war is not over—it has just started.
Zambia also thrashed Lesotho 8-0 and the result means Malawi are tied three points apiece with group B bitter rivals Zambia ahead of a decider between the two sides on Monday. The winner qualifies for the semi-finals.
Kazuwa said they need to forget about the 9-0 victory over Lesotho and concentrate on the Zambia match as Malawi is searching for a first semi-final appearance since 2011.
“Zambia is another team. We will go back and look at the strategy we are going to take. We will approach it in a different way,” he said.
Malawi full squad:
Goalkeeper: Samir Amidu
Defenders: Emily Jossam, Ruth Nyirongo, Chimwemwe Madise, Patricia Nyirenda
Midfielders: Asimenye Simwaka, Sabina Thom, Madinya Nguluwe, Zainab Kapanda, Temwa Chawinga
Strikers: Tabitha Chawinga
Mercy Sikelo, Salome Vinkhumbo, Chikondi Gondwe, Wezzie Mvula, Limbikani Chikupira, Maureen Phiri, Saliva January, Mary Chavinda