Harare – COSAFA has appointed three female soccer referees, including Namibian Paulina Joel, to officiate at the 2021 COSAFA Cup tournament which starts next week in South Africa.
On top of the 20 male officials who will oversee matches, Joel and fellow female referees Akhona Makalima (South Africa) and Diana Chikotesha (Zambia) will be in the mix.
The 23 officials were this week undergoing orientation ahead of the 12-team tournament that runs from July 6 to 18 in Port Elizabeth.
The match officials are being drilled under the supervision of COSAFA referees manager Felix Tangawarima of Zimbabwe, who is also a member of the Confederation of African Football Referees Committee.
Tangawarima said: “We are a development hub as Southern Africa. It is by no coincidence that we have our referees called to officiate at the biggest tournaments including at the Olympics.
“We are thriving to perfect their art and it is good that we give some of them a chance to officiate at COSAFA men’s games. This is in line with what FIFA and CAF are advocating for. We are grooming women officials all the time and we know the three we have selected will give a good account of themselves.”
Meanwhile, the Malawi Flames trooped into camp in preparation of the COSAFA Cup without nine of players and head coach Meck Mwase, who all tested positive for COVID-19.
Mwase’s assistant Bob Mpinganjira has also tested positive and the team is being drilled by one assistant coach Lovemore Fazili, who has taken charge of the 25 players camping at Mpira Village in Blantyre.
Football Association of Malawi competitions and communication director Gomezgani Zakazaka said: “All the players and officials underwent PCR tests while at home and those that tested negative are the ones that have gone into camp.
“We will be following up with all the positive cases to see who will recover in time for the trip to COSAFA. It is a big blow but we will have to work with the players that are available and no new players will be called into camp.”
The players who tested positive are Brighton Munthali, Chikondi Kamanga, Stain Dave, Gomezgani Chirwa, Yamikani Chester, Peter Cholopi, Antony Mfune ,Gaddie Chirwa and Paul Ndlovu. They are asymptomatic and are quarantined.
Malawi are in group B with Zambia, Madagascar and the Comoros.