Ntopwa Super Queens are hoping for a good start in the CAF Women’s Champions League Cosafa Qualifiers this afternoon as they face Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in Group A opener in Durban, South Africa.
It is a historic moment for women’s football in Malawi as it is the first time a local team is taking part in an international tournament.
The team’s coach James Sangala yesterday said although the odds are stacked against his side, being the only team making a debut appearance at the eight-team qualifiers, a strong start can help weave a clear path to a successful campaign.
In an interview, the coach admitted that they have no clue on how their opponents play after failing to get some video clips, but they are prepared to start on a bright note.
Ntopwa warming up before their training session on Monday
“We are determined to win our first match as that will boost our confidence ahead of the next fixtures against stronger opponents, considering that it will be the first time for most of our players to play international stage football,” Sangala said.
He also admitted that it will be a bonus for the national women’s football champions to make it to to the continental championship finals scheduled for November 5 to 9 in Ivory Coast.
“Our target is to compete well during the qualifiers. Anything beyond that will be a bonus for us,” Sangala said.
Apart from facing LDF in their four-team group, Ntopwa will also take on defending champions Green Buffaloes of Zambia and Double Action Ladies from Botswana.
Group B has South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, the Comoros’ Olympic de Moroni, Costa do Sol of Mozambique and Young Buffaloes of e-Swatini.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals. Only winners of the qualifiers, played in round-robin format, will represent the Cosafa region in Ivory Coast.
According to a statement from the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa), LDF are searching for their first win in the qualifiers after their debut appearance in the inaugural edition in 2021 saw them losing 6-0 to eventual champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Double Action Ladies. They drew one-all against Manzini Wanderers from e-Swatini.
Ntopwa have beefed up their squad by roping in Nyasa Big Bullets Women striker Vanessa Chikupira and Civil Service United Women forward Linda Kasenda on loan and Sangala said they have gelled well with the rest of the squad.
Apart from the two players, Ntopwa also bank their hopes on the likes of midfielder and captain Saliva January, striker Yamikani Mhango, defender Lynes Mbera and goalkeeper Mercy Sikelo.
On the other hand, LDF have strengthened their side by signing their defender Thato Mapepesa from Banthu Ladies and Massive Ladies’ goalkeeper Mamakhabane Makibinyane, according to an article on www.maserumetro.com .
National Women’s Football Association (NWFA) chairperson Adelaide Migogo said they are overjoyed to see a Malawian women’s football team participating in an African club competition.
“We should all come together in support of this team and we wish them all the best. This should also act as a wake-up call for the corporate world to start sponsoring women’s football in the country,” she said.