FAM plans to lodge a complaint to Cosafa over match-fixing after Zambia and Botswana settled for a goalless draw on Tuesday in their last Group B match at the Cosafa Women’s Championship in South Africa.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu has also questioned Council of Southern Africa Football Association’s (Cosafa) decision to schedule semi-final deciders on different time slots, saying that was the obvious mistake that potentially fuelled the alleged match-fixing.
Malawi women’s football national team, which finished its last Group A matches with a 13-0 victory over Comoros on Monday, would have made the last-four grade as the best runners-up on a superior goal difference had Zambia beaten Botswana.
However, the draw meant that both Shepolopolo made it as Group B winners and Botswana as best runners-up.
The two will face each other again in the semi-finals this afternoon.
They tied on seven points, a point better than Malawi.
Zambia are way ahead on position 114 against Botswana 147 who are on Fifa rankings. Head-to-head record shows that Zambia had won in both their two meetings against Botswana, scoring eight goals against three prior to the recent goalless draw.
Before their last group match against Botswana, Zambia had scored 18 goals against two in two games.
What has raised FAM’s eyebrows is the bizarre manner in which Zambia missed scoring opportunities, especially when the tournament’s joint leading scorer Rachel Nachula missed a penalty 14 minutes to the final whistle, a development Nyamilandu described as “very questionable and raises a lot of suspicion about match-fixing”.
Nyamilandu said: “This is a big shame and an insult to the integrity of the sport. It is a big shame to our beautiful game and very disgraceful.
“We are lodging a complaint of match-fixing with Cosafa so that thorough investigations are carried out.
“These are not ideal morals that we want our players to assimilate and grow up with. They are wrong values for the game to be associated with and appalling to say the least.
He added that the development has done great injustice to the Malawi women’s national team: “That played extremely well at the tournament and to the government that has spent a lot of money to participate in the tournament. The outcome is very unfair and the conduct uncalled for”.
Zambian media was yesterday awash with comments that accused their national team of match-fixing.
A report on zambiareports.com by one Boyd Nyirenda commenting on an article, said: “Match-fixing between Zambia vs Botswana…they didn’t want to play with Malawi in semi-finals and it was obvious to see that…so sad in football.”
After the match, Zambia coach Beauty Mwamba was also surprised with her team’s performance, especially regarding Nachula’s unbelievable penalty miss that went at least three metres away from goal.
“I am not happy with that. There was just the goalkeeper to beat and she missed like that,” she explained.
In an interview yesterday, Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said he would not comment on the matter until they get FAM’s official complaint.
“We are yet to receive the letter of complaint. It will, thus, be difficult to comment at this point. But we have an integrity management team that caters for all our tournaments and they provide report for each match.
Cosafa statutes clearly state that fairplay and integrity have to be adhered to by all member associations and all participating teams, unreservedly, and penalties for non-compliance include disqualification from tournaments and suspension from other Cosafa events.
Part of the statutes read: “All persons bound by Cosafa rules and regulations must refrain from any behaviour that damages or could damage the integrity of matches and competitions. Being an integrity matter, sanctions are enshrined in the ethics code and dealt with by the ethics committee.”
Zambia are expected to face Botswana again this afternoon in the first semi-final before defending champions South Africa take on Zimbabwe in the other last-four encounter later in the day.
Malawi were hoping to qualify for Cosafa semi-finals for the first time since 2011. They failed to cross the preliminary stage at last year’s event, but have now improved their performance as they narrowly lost 3-1 to South Africa, who are 97 steps better on Fifa rankings. They also triumphed 2-0 and 13-0 over Madagascar and Comoros, respectively.