Star striker Tabitha Chawinga scored six goals as Malawi overwhelmed Lesotho to record a 9-0 victory in their COSAFA Women’s Championship Group B clash on Saturday.
China-based Chawinga is making her return to the regional showpiece competition for the first time since 2017 and showed all of her quality to shoot to the top of the scorers list in this year’s tournament.
The result ends Lesotho’s involvement in the competition, but Malawi sit on top of Group B ahead of a crunch clash with Zambia on Monday, where they would only need a draw to advance to the next stage on goal-difference.
Zambia put eight past Lesotho without replay, with Malawi going one better to put them on top in the pool.
The writing was on the wall early for Lesotho as Malawi raced into a 2-0 lead inside five minutes, Zainabu Kapanda getting the opener and Tabitha Chawinga her first.
Sister Temwa Chawinga scored the side’s third, before Tabitha added three more in the first half, including a penalty.
She continued in the second half with two more goals, while the other scorer was Asimenye Simwaka.
Earlier, Botswana announced their entry into the competition with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Tanzania that keeps Group C on a knife-edge.
If Zimbabwe can claim a win over Mares in the final pool match on Monday, it will mean all three teams finish on three points and come down to the various goal;-difference and goals scored scenarios.
Thanda Mokgabo scored the only goal of the game against the Tanzanians as he headed home a free-kick on 53 minutes to give her side the lead.
Botswana had to do plenty of defending after that, but managed to keep the East African side at bay. Tanzania had defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 in their opener.
The next COSAFA Women’s Championship action will be on Monday when all groups will be concluded with four games in a feast of football to enjoy.
South Africa have already sealed their place in the semifinals as the top team in Group A following their back-to-back wins and face Comoros Islands (kick-off 15h30) in their final match.
At the same time there will be a clash between Eswatini and Angola, where the former can seal their semifinal place as the best-placed runner-up if they get a victory. They will not be able to overtake South Africa at the top due to their head-to-head record.
A draw could also be enough to move to the next stage, while defeat would see Angola go ahead of them and bring in teams in the other pools in the race for best runner-up.
Zambia and Malawi (12h30) go head-to-head in that potentially epic clash that will be centred around the Chawinga sisters and Barbra Banda for the Copper Queens.
All three play in China and are stars in that country, and it should be a fascinating contest.
Botswana and Zimbabwe (12h30) clash in the final match in Group C, where a point will see the Mares progress to the semifinals for the second year running.
Meanwhile, the matches in the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship continue on Sunday with two more games in the five-team pool.
Zimbabwe and Comoros (12h30) both lost their openers, but will hope to register three points to keep them in contention for a place in the final. The top two teams in the pool will play a decider on November 14.
Tanzania will take on hosts South Africa (15h30) with both knowing that victory will be a giant step towards that final place.
Both have three points from two games and with Zambia likely to be one of the final teams, are probably pushing for one place between them.