The Malawi Women’s National Football Team will be hoping to complete a double over hosts South Africa when they clash in their opening Group A Cosafa Women’s Championship match this afternoon.
The Scorchers stunned Banyana Banyana 2-3 in the semi-final of the same tournament in 2021 to qualify for the final of the regional showpiece for the first time which they lost to guest side Tanzania 1-0.
Scorchers coach Lovemore Fazili believes his charges have what it takes to stun the record seven-time champions again.
He said: “Our target is to bring the cup home. Of course, we know it won’t be easy, considering the strength of our opponents, but we are prepared to fight all the way.”
The Scorchers will be inspired by the return of China-based striker Temwa Chawinga and the availability of two other foreign-based players, forward Sabina Thom of TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and defender Chimwemwe Madise of Zambia’s Elite Ladies.
Local-based players such as Asimenye Simwaka, Madina Ngulube and Vaness Chikupira could also make a difference.
But Fazili admitted that a quick look at South Africa’s profile can send shivers down the spine of any opponent.
They are ranked 45th in the world and second in Africa while the Scorchers are ranked 159th globally and 32nd on the continent.
Banyana are also fresh from competing at the recent Fifa Women’s World Cup finals in Australia and have been active for the better part of the year compared to the Scorchers, whose only solace on the international stage was last week’s two international friendlies against lowly-ranked Seychelles, whom they clobbered by 17-0 margins at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre.
Said Fazili: “We could be behind in terms of statististics, but with self-belief and determination, we can achieve our goals. We have told our girls to be courageous and not to fear names.”
On her part, Temwa, who is making a comeback to the tournament after at least two years due to club commitments, said the morale is high in the team and they are ready for the showdown.
She also described the recent K60 million women’s football sponsorship from Goshen Trust, which includes K29 million for the Scorchers and K10 million towards players’ allowances, as a big boost.
“We are all motivated because of the support we got and I can assure the nation that we’ll give out our best. They can count on us,” she said.
In last year’s edition, the Scorchers were booted out in the group stages.
Malawi’s next match will be against e-Swatini on Saturday before wrapping up their group fixtures against Madagascar next Tuesday.