In very controversial circumstances, the Malawi women football national team is out of the 2019 COSAFA Cup tournament underway in Port Elizabeth, South Africa after the last Group B encounter between Zambia and Botswana ended in a draw.
Malawi started their campaign by beating Madagascar 2-1 before going down to hosts Banyanabanyana 1-3.
Then they went on to whip Comoros by 13 goals to nothing on Monday and finished second in their group after South Africa.
The hopes of the Malawi team rested in the fact that Zambia should beat Botswana on Tuesday for them to qualify for the semi finals as best runners up.
But surely it was not to be. A draw between Zambia and Botswana meant both teams would qualify for the semi finals while a win by Zambia would allow Malawi qualify.
It was clear that Zambia wanted to avoid Malawi and play Botswana in the semis; a game they knew they would win and eventually reach the finals. What was observed during the match was obviously, in my view, match fixing of the highest order.
The Zambians were never serious in their attack throughout the first half. They were however awarded a penalty in the first half but the assistant referee ruled it out. The first half therefore ended 0-0.
In the second half it was the same song as Zambia was poised to settle for a goalless draw.
Then a Botswana defender handled the ball in the penalty area and the referee again awarded the Zambians a clear penalty. Nachula stepped up to take charge of the spot kick in the 78th minute.
In very unbelievable circumstances, Nachula deliberately kicked the ball far wide of the Botswana goal. Surprisingly, the whole Zambian bench rose to celebrate Nachula’s deliberate miss.
The game therefore ended goalless as anticipated and Zambia will play Botswana again in the semi finals on Thursday while South Africa will play Zimbabwe. Malawi has to pack up and return home.
The development has angered many Malawians saying Zambia, despite being neighbours, do not wish Malawi well. But others have argued that in football you forget about somebody being a neighbour if you want to succeed.
“They knew Malawi would be a stumbling block in their path to the finals and they have tactically opted for the same Botswana. It is part of the game,” observed one Malawian Finley Banda from Chibavi in Mzuzu.
The Malawi technical panel should learn a lesson from this scenario. You don’t expect another team to fight for you. You fight your own battles to progress.
The Malawi team needed to win the game against South Africa. They scored first and Banyanabanyana equalised to take the game to 1-1 at recess.
The problem with the Malawi team was that after scoring their goal, they never kept possession of the ball both in the first half and the entire second half. Malawi were simply kicking the ball aimlessly with no passing at all. As a result, South Africans kept receiving the ball in their half unmarked and constantly piled unceasing pressure towards the Malawi goal.
Malawi played with no purpose. The technical panel never told the players what to do. It was therefore not surprising to see South Africa score two more goals and Malawi lost 1-3.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :