Malawi women’s national football team, the Scorchers, yesterday started their Cosafa Women’s Championship with a 2-1 loss to hosts and defending champions South Africa’s Banyana Banyana at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The Scorchers conceded as early as the second minute when the back-four of Chimwemwe Madise, Patricia Nyirenda, Ruth Nyirongo and Ireen Khumalo allowed Banyana’s Melinda Kgadiet to dash on a goal-kick pass to slot in past goalkeeper Samir Amidu.
In a match monitored on Cosafa Television, the early goal visibly demoralised the Scorchers who only recovered towards the half hour mark.
Central midfielders Zainab Kapanda and Madyina Nguluwe started showing some coordination with wingers Asimenye Simwaka and Wezzie Mvula.
Simwaka and Mvula delivered some good crosses for strikers Fazila Chembekezo and Sabina Thom, but the forwards were not clinical enough to drive the ball home.
Chembekezo and Khumalo also wasted great scoring opportunities from set pieces while Kapanda shot wide.
Against the run of play, Banyana doubled the lead in the 37th minute after a blunder by Madise, who lost the ball to Noxolo Cesane in the box and the Banyana striker made no mistake by firing past Amidu.
The second-half produced more scoring opportunities for Malawi as the Scorchers fought to come back into the game, but lack of composure in the box denied them.
The Scorchers finally got the consolation in the 87th minute through Mvula after she was set up by Khumalo.
However, it was too little, too late as Banyana registered the fourth straight win over the Scorchers in four editions of the tournament.
With just group winners proceeding to the semi-finals, Malawi need to win their next two matches to make it to the knockout stage.
But assistant coach McNebert Kazuwa was optimistic that the Scorchers can win the Group A battle and make it to the knockout stage.
He said in post-math interview: “The girls played very well. It’s just that our defenders made some mistakes. When we go back to the drawing board, we will plan for the remaining games.”
South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said they relaxed a bit in the second half which allowed Malawi to come back into the game.
The Scorchers play their second match against Mozambique on Friday before wrapping up the group stage against Angola next Monday.