Malawi to camp ahead of 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship

Malawi will begin their camp on Wednesday ahead of the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championship that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay and runs from September 28-October 9, hoping for a first ever success in the regional competition.

The squad will be led by acting caretaker coaches McNerbert Kazuwa and Andrew Chikhosi, with the Football Association of Malawi in the process of recruiting a new permanent head coach for the side.

It is expected that 30 players will report to the Mpira Village in Blantyre to be put through their paces by the technical team.

“The good thing is that the Regional Leagues have concluded, and the players will be fully committed to the camp until they leave for South Africa,” FAM Competitions and Communications Director Gomezgani Zakazaka said.

“The two coaches were head coach and assistant respectively during the team’s last assignments and are conversant with the set up as well as the players.”

The Scorchers will open their campaign on Sept. 28 against hosts and defending champions South Africa, who beat them in the semifinals last year. Malawi then face Mozambique on Oct. 1 and Angola three days later to complete their pool play.

Only the top team in each group and the best-placed runner-up advance to the semifinals.

Like all teams, Malawi will be using the COSAFA Women’s Championship to prepare for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that are scheduled for October.

They have a tough first round contest against Zambia, and if they make it past that stage will meet either COSAFA rivals Namibia or Tanzania in the next round.

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.

They were semifinalists again in 2020 as they defeated Lesotho 9-0 in their opener with Tabitha Chawinga managing six goals, before edging Zambia 1-0 in what proved the crucial game in the three-team pool.

That set up a semifinal with South Africa, but after the first half ended at 0-0, they lost 6-2. There was no bronze-medal match played.

Malawi preliminary squad:

Goalkeepers: Mercy Skilo (Ntopwa), Ruth Mhango (Moyale Sisters), Samil Amidu (DD Sunshine), Thoko Mwase (Blantyre Zero)

Defenders: Emily Jossam (Blantyre Zero), Emily Jossam (Blantyre Zero), Benedetter Mkandawire (Blantyre Zero), Ruth Nyirongo (DD Sunshine), Tionge Phiri (DD Sunshine) Saliva January (Ntopwa), Mphatso Gondwe (DD Sunshine), Ireen Khumalo (Ascent Academy) Moreen Phiri (CY Sisters) Chimwemwe Madise (Lusaka Dynamos), Patricia Nyirenda (Lusaka Dynamos)

Midfielders: Chikondi Gondwe (CY Sisters), Madina Nguluwe (DD Sunshine) Zainabu Kapanda (Blantyre Zero), Wezzie Mvula (DD Sunshine) Vitumbiko Mkandawire (CY Sisters), Rose Kabzere (Ascent), Jesse Joseph    (Skippers), Carolyn Mathyola (DD Sunshine), Grace Yotamu (Ntopwa), Melise Licckson (Ascent Academy)

Strikers: Asimenye Simwaka (Topic), Fazira Chiyembekeza (Skippers), Mary Chavinda (Blantyre Zero), Mary Chavinda (Blantyre Zero), Sabina Thom (DD Sunshine), Vanessa Chikupira (Blantyre Zero), Kondawu Banda (Ntopwa)