Despite not earning enough votes for the best three nominees of the women’s African Player of the Year award, Malawi’s Scorchers captain Tabitha Chawinga has been named in best Africa XI by FIFPRO Africa.
Announced on Monday night at the Gala Awards in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, Tabitha was selected alongside Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, who has won the African Player of the Year award for the record sixth time as forwards along with Zambian Barbara Banda.
Barbara, who plays for Shanghai Shengli in China was also in the top three of the nominees for the women’s African Player of Year alongside Oshoala of Barcelona in Spain and South African Thembi Kgatlana (Racing Louisville, USA).
South Africa has contributes 5 players in the African XI — goalkeeper Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns), two defenders, Bambani Mbane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebohang Ramalepe (FC Dinamo Minsk) and two midfielders Linda Matlhalo (Glasgow City) & Refiloe Jane (Sassuolo).
There are three Nigerians in the squad of forward Oshoala (Barcelona), defenders Michielle Aloize (Houston Dash) and Osinachi Ohale (Deportivo Alavés (Gloriosas) while Morocco has contributed midfielder Fatima Tagnaout (ASFAR).
Tabitha Chawinga, who capped a prolific year by being named Italy women’s league Player of the Year — a prestigious award from Italian Footballers’ Association — was also chosen as the Italian league’s Best XI.
“Though not literally overlooked in CAF awards as I have been recognised in the Best XI. Finally, your girl is in the 2023 CAF FIFPRO Best XI . This is for you rural girl, never stop dreaming,” she said on her facebook page.
By scooping the Italian Women’s Player of the Year accolade — voted for by peers — Tabitha further underlined her lethal attacking credentials across a stunning individual season and after conquering the Italian, the nomadic striker enjoyed boneless form adapting swiftly to French football.
But her performances did not earn enough votes for her to considered in the final three nominees for the African Player of the Year, for which she has been nominated for five times but has eluded her despite some phenomenon attributes of the player in which she has now etched a niche in women’s football to win the Golden Boot in three of her host countries — Sweden, China and Italy.
In Sweden, she left an indelible mark in the 2015–2016 season at Kvarnsvedens IK concluding it as the league’s top scorer with an impressive tally of 43 goals, simultaneously propelling her team to the upper echelons of Swedish women’s football.
In 2018, she embarked on a new chapter, joining the ranks of Chinese side Jiangsu LFC and her stellar performances garnered consecutive Chinese Women’s Super League Player of the Year awards in 2018 and 2019.
The year 2021 witnessed Tabitha’s move to Wuhan Jianghan University before a loan spell with the prestigious Italian club Inter Milan where she won the Serie A Femminile’s Golden Boot with an outstanding 23 goals in 2022/23 league season.
The 27-year-old Malawi Scorchers captain, who is currently on loan with French club Paris St Germain, played for Inter Milan on loan from Chinese side, Wuhan Jiangda before leaving Italy for another season-long loan to French powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain.
She was nominated for CAF Player of Year award alongside her sister, Temwa — who steered the Malawi Scorchers to their first-ever international title when they won the 2023 COSAFA Championship.
Temwa was stand-in captain for the Scorchers as Tabitha remained in France to honour her team’s assignments that included the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Temwa, who plays for Wuhan Jiangda in China alongside her sister Tabitha, was a revelation as stand-in captain at the 2023 COSAFA Championship where she was voted Player of the Tournament and won the Golden Boot as well as two Player of the Match accolades.
Malawi Scorchers were also nominated among 10 countries for the National Team of the Year alongside their mentor, Lovemore Fazili, who was nominated for the Coach of the Year.