Africa-Press – Malawi. It is written in the stars and it seems the Malawian soccer gods are finally making what once appeared as an impossible mission to become a reality. Impossible is nothing and history is on the verge to be written for the south-east landlocked nation dubbed the warm heart of Africa.
Malawi’s Scotchers beat Banyana Banyana 3-2 in the semi-finals to book themselves a deserved place against the northern neighbours, the Twiga Stars of Tanzania who saw off western neighbours, Zambia in a thrilling 3-2 in penalties to reach the final.
Banyana Banyana and Malawi were playing for the second time in this tournament. The South Africans had won their group stage match 2-1 and this time around, Banyana had a chance to open the scoring after Sibulele Holweni’s pass had found Melinda Kgadiete in the box.
However, Chimwemwe Madise was on hand to stop Kgadiete from scoring. Sabinah Thom scored a brace, as Malawi made history with a 3-2 victory over hosts and holders South Africa to secure a first ever place in the final of the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Championships, where they will face Tanzania on Saturday.
It is the first time that seven-time winners South Africa have failed to make the decider of the Southern African championship, and sweet revenge for Malawi after they were beaten in last year’s semifinals by Banyana Banyana.
Saturday’s decider is likely to be an epic contest and gives Malawi the chance to claim a first piece of regional silverware, though they come up against CECAFA champions Tanzania, who edged Zambia on penalties earlier in the day.
South Africa and Zambia will now play for the bronze medal as a curtain-raiser to the decider. Malawi led three times in their semifinal before finally seeing off the defending champions, hitting the front on 38 minutes as Fazila Chembekezo headed into the net.
The home side managed to equalise before the break though as Sibulele Holweni scored a stunner, shooting into the top corner from 30-yards. South Africa struggled at the back all game and Malawi took advantage as Thom scored her first having been given far too much space inside the box.
But the home side levelled again 10 minutes from time when Holweni converted a penalty, and in doing so moved to four goals for the competition and top of the scorers charts.
She was the leading scorer in last year’s tournament with eight goals. Malawi would not be denied though and after another defensive calamity at the back, Thom scored her second with an expert finish.
Tanzania edged Zambia 3-2 on penalties in a pulsating first semifinal that finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. The East African guest had the better of the first half, and were rewarded with the opening goal as Zambia defender Lushomo Mweemba put the ball into her own net.
But the Copper Queens came more into the game in the second half and were level with just over 20 minutes to go when captain Grace Chanda netted her third goal of the competition.
That took the match to penalties, but it was Tanzania who held their nerve as goalkeeper Janeth Simba produced a number of excellent saves in the shoot-out.
The third-place play-off between Zambia and South Africa will take place at 12h00 on Saturday, with the final between Tanzania and Malawi set for 15h00
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) President Walter Nyamilandu said: “These ladies are unstoppable and have made history and we are very proud of them. They are our heroes. We will cherish and celebrate them forever.
“I urge all Malawians to rally behind these great daughters of the soil and give them the support they need as the go to fight for our honour against Tanzania in the finals.”