Thursday, July 18, 2024

Tabitha Chawinga’s Perplexity Over African Player of the Year Award; ‘is it because am from Malawi?’


Despite her impressive form, Malawi’s standout female striker, Tabitha Chawinga, expressed her bewilderment at not yet securing the esteemed CAF African Women Footballer of the Year Award, despite her consistent performance in recent years. Chawinga, presently on loan at Paris Saint-Germain-PSG, has already netted two goals in five matches for the French club, including one against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, a historic achievement for Malawian female footballers.

In a crucial role, she contributed to her team’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the second leg last night, providing an assist for the second goal, securing their qualification for the Champions’ League group stage. The 27-year-old striker embarked on her professional journey at DD Sunshine in Malawi before making her move to Europe in 2014, initially joining the Swedish third-division club Krokom/Dvärsätts IF.

A year later, Chawinga advanced to the second-division club Kvarnsvedens IK, where her remarkable tally of 43 goals not only earned her the top scorer accolade but also propelled her club into the Damallsvenskan, the highest division. In 2018, she transitioned to Jiangsu LFC, clinching the Player of the Year award for two consecutive seasons in the Chinese Women’s Super League before her move to Wuhan in 2021. Subsequently, she was loaned to Inter, concluding the previous season as Serie A’s leading scorer with an impressive 23 goals before joining PSG.

Chawinga has clinched the top scorer award in every country where she has played club football, yet the CAF Women’s Player of the Year award continues to elude her.

“I don’t know why I haven’t won it. Maybe it is because I am from Malawi,” she told the Guardian. “And the fact that our national team has not played in major competitions but I think I deserve it.”

She holds the aspiration of maintaining her consistency and possesses a strong belief that she could finally secure the award this year.

Chawinga will face stiff competition from the current titleholder, Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria, who has already claimed the honor six times – a record-setting achievement. Additionally, she will be in contention with Zambia’s Racheal Kundananji, who remarkably netted 33 goals last season, both for her club and national team, surpassing the goal tally of any other African female player. Kundananji also finished as the second-highest scorer in the Spanish league with 25 goals.

Oshoala, who won the Champions League with Barcelona, and Kundananji, who also scored a goal in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, are formidable rivals. The highly-regarded CAF Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place on December 11, 2023, in Morocco.



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