Malawi National Women’s Football Team, the Scorchers, yesterday bowed out of the CAF 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) qualification after going down 3-2 to Zambia’s Copper Queens.
In the first round second leg at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, the hosts came from behind to claim the 4-3 aggregate victory after a one-all draw in the first leg at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe a week ago. Zambia will face Namibia.
In a match monitored on Smart Sports TV, the Scorchers took an early lead through winger Asimenye Simwaka’s 12th minute strike after Zambia goalkeeper Ng’ambo Musole fumbled Ireen Khumalo’s set piece.
But evasive Zambia striker Rachel Kundananji’s first-half brace messed up Malawi’s attempt at making it past the preliminary stage of the competition.
The striker scored the equaliser in the 25th minute after a counter-attack that left the Scorchers defence exposing goalkeeper Ruth Mhango.
She was back in the 41st minute to put the hosts ahead, taking advantage of a defensive howler from Malawi defence at close range.
Leading at half-time, the hosts were assured of progressing to the next stage on 3-2 aggregate.
The pressure was now on Malawi to level the scores and qualify on away goals rule.
The Scorchers threw everything at the hosts and Wezzie Mvula brought Malawi back into the game through a 69th minute long range effort to the top left corner which Zambia goalkeeper failed to keep out.
But the Scorchers could not hold on as they ended up conceding in similar fashion just four minutes later from a Lushomo Mweemba’s long range set piece beating Mhango.
Scorchers coach McNelbert Kazuwa described it as a painful loss.
He said: “The girls put up a gallant fight and showed great character by taking the lead, but we paid the price for needless defensive lapses.
“When we equalised to make it 2-2, we somehow lost concentration and started panicking, but they fought hard.”