Barely days after emerging the top performer at CAF elite ‘A’ women referees course in Djibouti, Bernadettar Kwimbira-Mzika is in the officiating team for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier between Libya and Tanzania.
In the past, Confederation of African Football (CAF) used to assign female referees to low profile matches, usually at junior tournaments.
But for the first time CAF has assigned six female referees, including Kwimbira-Mzika, to high profile matches.
Malawian referees will officiate the qualifier set for Stade Mustafa Ben in Libya on November 19 with centre referee Ishmael Chizinga in charge of the game while Clemence Kanduku (first assistant referee) and Kwimbira-Mzika (second assistant referee) and Gift Chicco as the fourth official.
Amir Osman Mohamed Hamid from Sudan will be match commissioner while Abdo Ali Mohamed from Djibouti will assess the referees.
Kwimbira-Mzika was overjoyed to be part of history as women’s referees are breaking barriers in refereeing.
“This is something great. It’s so huge. Last year, CAF appointed a trio of women’s referees to officiate Under-17 tournaments in Tanzania. This year they appointed another trio for CAF Under-23 tournament which will kick off next week in Egypt.
“But honestly, I didn’t expect that they would start appointing women’s referees for Afcon qualifiers. We are talking of senior national teams whereby you have locals and all foreign-based stars.
“I just thank God that I am one of the first six women to be appointed for Afcon qualifiers and if we do better in these matches, we are going to open doors for the rest of the women referees in Africa,” she said.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) referees desk officer Maxwell Mtonga said Kwimbira-Mzika has made the country proud.
“The whole world will be watching these female referees officiating Afcon qualifiers for the first time. It’s a big achievement,” he said.
Mtonga also applauded the male referees who will partner Kwimbira-Mzika for their good performance.
“Mostly, Malawian referees are assigned matches within the southern Africa region. But this time they have gone beyond their zone. This shows that CAF is recognising Malawi referees,” he said.
CAF yesterday released a full list of match officials for all 2021 Afcon qualifiers which will be played this month.
Meanwhile, Pacifique Ndabihawenimana from Burundi will officiate Malawi’s opening qualifier against South Sudan on November 13 at Kamuzu Stadium.
Hervé Kakunze and Willy Habimana both from Burundi, will be first and second assistant referees. Another Burundian, Eric Manirakiza, will be the fourth official.
Kidane Melles Terfe from Eritrea will be match commissioner while referees assessor is Tshotleho Enock Molefe from South Africa.
Malawi is in Group B alongside other group members Uganda and Burkina Faso.
After hosting South Sudan on November 13, the Flames’ second qualifier is away to Uganda at Mandela National Stadium in Kampala.
For this match Afcon has assigned Sudanese centre referee Mahmood Ali Mahmood Ismail.
He will be assisted by compatriots Omer Hamid Mohamed Ahmed (first assistant referee) and Abdelgabar Mohamed Abdelgabar (second assistant referee).
Elsiddig Mohamed Eltreefe also from Sudan will be fourth official. Aimable Habimana from Burundi and Yohannes Ghirmai from Eritrea will be match commissioner and referees assessor, respectively.