Malawi will be hoping to be among the medals when they compete at the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay from November 3-14, which would better their previous best showing in the competition.
Malawi finished fourth in Zimbabwe in 2011, but will feel they are a team on the rise after a strong showing in 2019 and can this time break onto the podium.
Coach McNelbert Kazuwa has been putting the locally-based squad through their paces, and says the most important thing initially is to work on physical fitness.
“We have noted that most of the girls are not fit as they have stayed for so long without playing football. But their performance is giving hope that they will gradually pick up,” Kazuwa said.
“For the time being, we are going to concentrate on the players’ physical fitness, individual performances as well as their technical approach to the game before we engage them in full game scenarios.”
Kazuwa has included China-based Chawinga sisters, Tabitha and Temwa, in his preliminary squad, the former having been the leading scorer in the Chinese Super League.
If they are on the plane to Nelson Mandela Bay, their presence will be a massive boost to Malawi’s chances.
Malawi played their first ever international at the 2002 COSAFA Women’s Championships, but were on the receiving end of an 8-0 loss to hosts Zambia at that tournament.
They beat Lesotho 3-0 in their next game to record a first win, but failed to reach the knockout stages.
They defeated Lesotho by the same scoreline at the 2006 COSAFA Women’s Championships, but a 3-0 loss to South Africa ended their semifinal hopes.
Malawi did reach the knockout stages when the tournament was played in 2011, finishing second in their pool, but came unstuck against the South Africans again with a 5-1 semifinal loss.
They eventually finished fourth after losing 3-0 to East African guest nation Tanzania in the bronze medal play-off match.
The side had a mixed competition in 2017, losing to Zambia (6-3), drawing with Zimbabwe (3-3) and claiming a handsome win over Madagascar (6-3) to finish third in the pool with four points.
It was also mixed success in 2018, with a 2-0 win over Madagascar tempered by a loss to Botswana by the same scoreline and a 6-0 hammering from South Africa.
The side continued to show their progress with another strong performance in 2019, but once again they could not sneak into the knockout stages.
They started with a 2-0 win over Madagascar, but that was followed by a 3-1 loss to South Africa.
They finished their pool play with a team record 13-0 success against the Comoros Islands.
Malawi have yet to qualify for the African Women’s Championship.
Goalkeepers: Mercy Sikelo (Ntopwa Super Queens), Thoko Mwale (Blantyre Zero), Memory Banda (Skippers), Ruth Mhango (DD Academy), Samir Amidu (DD Sunshine)
Defenders: Chimwemwe Madise (DD Sunshine), Ruth Nyirongo (DD Sunshine), Tionge Phiri (DD Sunshine), Maureen Phiri (CY Sisters), Patricia Nyirenda (Ntopwa), Emily Jossam (Skippers), Fatsireni Kazembe (Skippers), Sylvia Phiri (Ntopwa), Saliva January (Ntopwa)
Midfielders: Madyina Ngulube (DD Sunshine), Fanny Mwale (DD Sunshine), Wezzie Mvula (DD Sunshine), Sabina Thom (DD Sunshine), Caroline Mathyola (DD Sunshine), Salome Vinkhumbo (Blantyre Zero), Zainab Kapanda (Blantyre Zero), Pilirani Malora (Blantyre Zero), Lyna James (Blantyre Zero), Grace Yotamu (Ntopwa), Chikondi Gondwe (CY Sisters)
Strikers: Vanessa Chikupira (Blantyre Zero), Mary Chavinda (Blantyre Zero), Chipo Ngwenya (Moyale Sisters), Naomi Mwale (Moyale Sisters), Asimenye Simwaka (Topik Sisters), Yamikani Mhango (Ntopwa Super Queens), Fazira Chiyembekeza (Skippers), Loveness Nyakamera (Skippers), Tabitha Chawinga (Jiangsu Suning- China), Temwa Chawinga (Wuhan Jiangda-China)