Not this time. Revered Malawi women’s football star Tabitha Chawinga has boldly stated she has no chance of retaining the Chinese Women’s Footballer of the Year Award this year.
Instead, the prolific forward, rated among the top five women footballers on the continent by Confederation of African Football, has tipped her sister Temwa and Zambian Barbara Banda as the top contenders.
In an interview, the 24-year-old Jiangsu Suning striker, who has won the award in the past two seasons since making her debut in the Chinese women’s top-flight, said: “Honestly, I do not see myself winning the award because I did not perform to the expected standards.
“However, there were a number of factors that contributed to that as well as our team’s struggles.
“But even if I try to justify that through an explanation, people would still not understand me. So, let’s leave that for another day.
“The way I see it, the frontrunners for the top accolade this season are Temwa and Barbara. I think they did enough to clinch the award.”
Tabitha said Temwa deserved the award because she did not only inspired her team, Wuhan, to win the league title in her debut season, but was also the runner-up top scorer of the league with nine goals.
She said: “I believe she played an integral part in her team’s success.
“As for Barbara, she too had a fantastic season, winning the golden boot with 18 goals and inspiring her team Shanghai Shengli to a third-place finish.”
However, Tabitha, who also failed to retain the golden boot, brushed off suggestions that she is running out of steam.
On her part, Temwa played down her sister’s praises, saying: “I think the most important thing was to help my team win its first league title.
“When I was signed by the club, they made it clear that those were their expectations and I am glad that I lived up to that.
“On the prospects of winning the Player of the Year Award, it would be a bonus, otherwise I am not really bothered by that. But coming from my sister, whom I admire and respect so much, I would say I am really humbled.”
The 22-year-old striker’s sheer quality shone like a flare when she helped Wuhan to clinch their first-ever Chinese Women’s Super League title, ending a 19-year wait.
Temwa joined the Chinese side in January this year after a three-year spell with Swedish side Kvarnsvedens, where she scored 59 goals in 57 games, including 35 last season.