Match-fixing claims as Zebras reach COSAFA semis

Zebras vs Zambia
Zebras vs Zambia

The Mares on Tuesday afternoon reached a historic feat after reaching the COSAFA Women's Championships' semi-finals following a 0-0 draw with Zambia.

The final Group B match was played at the Nelson Mandela Bay as both teams bagged the result that ensured both advance to the semi-finals, with the Mares getting the spot as the best runners up. The two teams will meet again on Thursday afternoon while Zimbabwe play titleholders South Africa in the other semi-final.

The Mares' historic moment has, however, been tainted after media reports in Malawi suggest that Zambia deliberately came into the match looking for a draw as they wanted to set up a semi-final tie against a 'weakened' Mares team.  

Malawi waited on the sidelines to learn their fate after finishing second to Banyana Banyana in Group A, but missed out after the Botswana and Zambia draw. However, the Malawians cried foul as they accused their Southern neighbours of match-fixing. 

In a controversial manner on the pitch, Shepolopolo were awarded a penalty on 36th-minute after Esalenna Galekhutle brought down a Zambian player inside the box and the referee awarded a penalty. 

The official later reversed the decision and gave the Shepolopolo a free kick just on the edge of the box. With just 13 minutes to full time, Shepolopolo were awarded another penalty, but Rachel Nachula, a striker who had eight goals in just two games in the tournament, lazily put her effort wide of the post.

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has lashed out at the reports as they say the team has reached the semi-finals on merit. "It would be a shame if Zambia came into the game with those intentions and it is a shame that we are being involved in all of it.  We have qualified for the semi-final on merit, it is a pity that Malawi want to play the game in the boardroom rather than on the field. They should have done their part on the pitch. 

We are better than all the teams that have been eliminated," BFA public relations officer, Tumo Mpatane said. He said the BFA will do further investigations on the matter, but is adamant that there was no foul play from the local side.

"We will do our investigations. We will contact our team in South Africa. Our players and coaches are given enough protection from what could be potential fixers and I believe our team has worked hard to reach the semi-final and should not be involved in these silly reports," he said. 

Meanwhile, the Under-20 side did not have the same fortunes after they bowed out of the inaugural Under-20 COSAFA Championships.  The team lost their first two games, but bowed out on a high with a 3-0 win over eSwatini on Monday.  They are expected back home today.



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