While at the tournament, the SheFlames lost their first game to Zambia’s Shepolopolo 6-3, beat the whipping girls Madagascar 6-3 before drawing their final Group A match against the defending champions Zimbabwe. The results essentially mean the SheFlames have finished third in the group, Zambia proceed to the semis (as group winners) with two wins and a draw against Zimbabwe.
Despite their early exit, coach Stewart Mbolembole chose to look on the brighter side when he spoke to MBC.
“Quite an impressive and improved performance against Zimbabwe from the first game that we played against Zambia. We have been improving with each and every game.
This should also be a request to our authorities that these girls should be given more time to prepare when they are coming for such tournaments. Look at Zambia, Zimbabwe, these teams have been in camp for almost a month and they each played two friendly games before coming to this tournament,” he said.
Malawi on the other hand did not play any friendlies, only limbering up against some Under-20 sides.
MBC Sports analyst Frank Kandu thinks Malawi Football authorities need to seriously invest in women’s football if the girls are to produce the sort of results that will see Malawi playing at the World Cup.
“Malawi performed well thanks to individual brilliance [of Tabitha Chawinga]. That tells you that we have talent that needs to be nurtured. With the right structures we can produce a team that can contend on the international stage,” noted Kandu.
Women’s football generally struggles to sponsorship for its regional leagues and Cups. The Football Association of Malawi funds Women’s FAM Cup and now the Presidential Cup.
The COSAFA Women’s Championship was last held in 2011 in Zimbabwe. At that tournament Malawi made it beyond the group stages into the semi-finals.