It has been a rocky old ride full of bouts of despair, but yesterday the Scorchers finally broke the Cosafa Women’s Championship jinx after beating Zambia 2-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
And it could not have been sweeter and more timely than achieving the feat on Mother’s Day and to add extra spice, against a familiar foe.
This was not fiction, this was real, the Malawi Women’s National Football team had finally joined the pantheon of greats who have won the tournament before.
There were scenes so lovely as the Scorchers, joined by some South Africa-based Malawians, celebrated the historic triumph by turning the arena into a theatre of celebrations.
The defining moment was Scorchers coach Lovemore Fazili releasing all his motions in his finest hour of triumph as he bathed in the sunshine of glory.
Fists clenched, eyes lit, mouth wide open, his twisted face an illustration of boundless joy. Then, with tears of joy rolling on his cheeks, he sat on the bench and appeared to be praying.
Even when the media sought his comments after the match, the coach appeared at a loss for words, visibly in disbelief.
He said: “I am overwhelmed, I am happy., I don’t know what to say. We have won it.”
On snatching the winner at the start of added time, Fazili said: “It was a goal from God. We deserved it, I knew we would win, come rain, come sunshine.
“Even after conceding that goal from a penalty, I told my players to keep calm.”
For a fleeting moment, as captain Temwa Chawinga received the cup, time appeared to stand still, frozen by the beauty of the occasion, the outpouring of joy triggered by the magic of a good story that had a good ending.
Joining the celebrations were Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu, National Women’s Football Association chairperson Adelaide Migogo, who could be forgiven if at all she felt like flying and, of course FAM executive member Chimango Munthali, who was the leader of delegation.
In a match monitored on SABC, the Scorchers started slowly, but once they shrugged off the early lethargy, they were in cruise control.
Their trumpcard Temwa was kept under lock-and-key, creating opportunities for others and they drew first blood through the multi-talented Asimenye Simwaka.
With her back facing the Zambian goal, she twisted her frame to drill the ball home from close range.
With Chimwemwe Madise marshalling the defence and Madyina Ngulube, who was named Player-of-the-Match, turning on the magic in midfield, Malawi pushed for the second goal and it came just before half-time when Temwa sweetly set up Sabinah Thom to slot the ball home, but it was disallowed following the intervention of the video assistant referee for a foul.
And with six minutes to full time, the Zambians pulled level through a penalty awarded after Ireen Khumalo was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Up stepped Agness Phiri to convert the spot-kick.
It was back to square one, but to their credit, the Scorchers kept fighting and it paid off when Thom struck the winner in the first minute of added-time.
Moments later, it was game over! And the final whistle was greeted by a defeaning roar.