Malawi National Women’s Football Team started their 2023 Cosafa Women’s Championship campaign yesterday in spectacular fashion with a 3-4 victory over hosts and record seven-time champions South Africa at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
It was a result which glorifies the spoils of an underdog, which finds itself facing the might of a heavyweight.
Following the win, the Scorchers, ranked 159th in the world, a yawning 114 places below Banyana Banyana, sit at the pinnacle of Group A with three points.
They are tied with second-placed e-Swatini, who beat Madagascar 2-1 earlier on.
In a nervy match monitored on Cosafa TV, the African champions were favourites to win yesterday’s match, but they were stunned by a strong-willed Malawi side.
China-based prolific striker and captain Temwa Chawinga was the centre-piece of the Scorchers’ sweet victory with a hat-trick which underlined her credentials as one of the best forwards in the world.
The win also completed a double for Malawi, who beat South Africa 3-2 the last time they met in the same tournament two years ago.
After shrugging off some early lethargy, Malawi drew first blood before the half-hour mark through Leticia Chinyamula, but the hosts were level in the 45th minute.
Thubelilhe Shamashe connected home after the Scorchers defence was caught flat-footed.
But the inspired Scorchers restored the lead moments later through Temwa, who lurched on a South African defender’s poor back pass to slot in the second goal just before the break.
The prolific striker, who was named player-of-the-match, was at it again in the 64th minute to extend Malawi’s lead to 3-1 by the 64th minute. She headed over advancing South Africa goalkeeper before coolly finishing it off with a left footer.
Temwa once again tormented the South African defence and completed her hat-trick in similar fashion in the 76th minute. She floated in the air for a moment before heading home a cross from the left wing.
After this goal, the Scorchers relaxed, allowing South Africa to bounce back with two goals through Thogofatso Motlogelwa in the 80th minute and Shamase in added time. But the Scorchers held on to bag full points.
Malawi coach Lovemore Fazili said he was happy that his charges lived to their promise to win the match.
“The girls played according to our game-plan although they lost concentration towards the end. We needed this win badly because it could prove vital in determining our destiny,” he said.
The Scorchers next game is against e-Swatini on Saturday.