LILONGWE, February 5, 2019 – The 2018 Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) awards are done and dusted. In the case of women’s football, the jury voted talented South African Thembi Kgatlana as the best on the continent. Congratulations Thembi, you deserved it.
From this Southern part of Africa, in a country we call Malawi, the only crumbs of comfort we have from the awards is that at least Tabitha Chawinga received an honourable mention.
The 22-year-old, who plays for Jingsu Suning in the Chinese Women’s Football League, was among the nominees, but she did not make it to the final shortlist of three.
That Chawinga, the left-footed attacker with the speed of lightning, earned nominations in two consecutive years is a matter of a miracle and a stuff of legends.
No other Malawian footballer has come close to such recognition in these awards that are a preserve for our brothers and sisters who were fortunate enough to be born in North, Central and West Africa.
Geography is everything in football. This is no sour grapes but the truth in football. Across the world.
Just like in every awards, these latest beg healthy debate on who qualifies for the best player on the continent.
It appears that as much as they are individual awards that celebrate individual brilliance, the national factor is a big in the weighting basket.
If you are Tabitha, you can only shrug your shoulders and say to yourself: “What else was I supposed to do to win these awards?”
Indeed, what else does Tabitha need to do to win the awards when she scored the highest number of goals in China to win the 2018 league Golden Boot with 17 goals, leaving former African Women’s Player of the Year, Nigerian Asisat Oshoala, seven goals in her wake?
Tabitha also claimed the Player of the Year accolade in China and this was, far, not an isolated feat for the dreadlocked dribbling wizard.
Tabitha has in four seasons won top scorer awards three times, including twice in Sweden where she featured for Kvansvedens IK and Dvarstatts.
In these four seasons, Tabitha has scored 140 goals; a staggering 35 per season.
To be modest, these goals exclude those she banged for fun while at DD Sunshine before clinching a deal with Dvarstatt.
However, to win the CAF award, it appears that national team performance has more impact on one’s chances.
Not that Tabitha underperforms in the national team which she captains. She has scored 12 goals in 17 games.
Unfortunately, the national team is not good enough to even win the Southern Africa’s Cosafa Championship.
If anything the She-Flames seem to compete against Tabitha because every time she scored three goals, the team concedes six.
At the last Cosafa Championship held in Zimbabwe two years ago, Tabitha scored nine goals in three games but Malawi were still booted out from the group stages.
Qualifying for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup is even a far-fetched dream for Malawi.
So if these awards are for individuals, what else should Tabitha do to win it?
If it were tennis singles, Tabitha should have been an undoubted winner of the CAF award, but what else should she do when hers is a team sport?
If you ask me, Tabitha is simply, Africa’s and the world’s best. Bring the statistics to prove otherwise.