Europe-based Tabitha Chawinga’s hat-trick yesterday at Barbourfield Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was not enough for Malawi national women football as it went down 3-6 to Zambia’s She-polopolo in group A opener of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Women’s Cup.
During the game monitored on Ufulu Television through GOtv, the striker, who plays for Swedish top league side Knarsveden IK, rose to the occasion to score against the run of play in the ninth, 55th and 86th minutes although his individual brilliance was not enough to rescue the team from defeat.
She notched her first goal when she lurched on a through ball from Eluby Bottoman to connect home with a left-footed shot.
She was at it again when she made an easy tap-in from a goal-mouth scramble after Zambian defenders failed to clear Malawi’s free-kick by defender Wezzie Mvula. She made a final flourish with wonderful effort after zigzagging her way through a forest of defenders and finding herself in a one-on-one situation with Zambian goalkeeper.
But her brilliant individual effort was contrary to Malawi’s overall performance, especially in defence where goalkeeper Martha Banda was on several occasions forced to save the situation.
At least four times did She-polopolo strikers find themselves with only Banda to beat only in the first half and four times did she deny them the scoring opportunities. However, as the game petered out, she was left with too many situations to save and some attacks managed to trickle in as the Zambians sleep-walked their way to a resounding victory.
Zambia’s Barbara Banda and Misozi Zulu scored a brace each before Rachael Nachula and captain Noriah ‘Mbesuma’ Sosala completed the scorers’ list.
Malawi coach Stuart Mbolembole admitted the defensive lapse and he said “they will be rectified as we go into our next game against Madagascar on Friday.”
Malawi was expected to defy the odds against their bigger opponents in this competitive match as they did not have an international friendly prior to the Cosafa contest. The last time they met was in December last year in a friendly match and Malawi lost 3-2.