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Tabitha Chawinga is making her mark on Serie A Femminile with Inter

The Malawi striker is the top goal scorer in the Italian league and shows no signs of slowing down.

FC Internazionale v UC Sampdoria - Women Coppa Italia
Tabitha Chawinga celebrates a goal
Photo by FC Internazionale/Inter via Getty Images

In their most recent match, Inter Milan started the half against top-of-the-table Roma down 2-0. Roma had dominated the first half, topping Inter in possession and shots, and limiting the visitor’s opportunities. Then, less than two minutes into the second half, a glimmer of hope for Inter: forward Tabitha Chawinga nets Inter’s first goal of the day bringing her season total up to 14. Although Inter would go on to lose the match 3-2, Chawinga’s goal is emblematic of Inter’s current campaign. Her ability to turn a game around on a dime and tenacity to hunt for goals has given Inter an added confidence that has solidified the team as a true threat in Serie A this season.

Wherever Chawinga goes, success quickly follows. The Malawi native was the Chinese Women’s Super League top scorer in 2018, 2019, and 2021, and earned the league’s Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019.

Chawinga is now bringing her talents to Italy via a loan to Inter from Wuhan Jianghan University FC. In September 2022, she was named Player of the Month in Serie A Femminile. Her most recent goal against Roma is her 14th this season, making her the league’s top goal scorer. If she maintains that position, she would be the first African player to win the Golden Boot honors.

“I’m so happy. It was my dream to sign with this big team like Inter Milan,” she said in an interview with the team upon joining in August 2022. “This is a very huge opportunity for me because every player has a dream to play for a big team like Inter, one of the biggest teams in the world. This opportunity to me is very important because I [want] to achieve many things in my football career.”

The 26-year-old striker is indeed achieving significant success with Inter both personally and as a team. Although the squad finished fifth overall in the 2021/22 season, the team struggled to keep up with top teams, finishing nearly 20 points behind the eventual Scudetto winners Juventus. Now with Chawinga, Inter is currently fourth in the 2022/23 campaign, only five points behind second place Juventus and the third best goal differential in the league thanks in part to the goal scoring prowess of Chawinga.

In Inter’s 3-0 win against Sassuolo at home, Chawinga’s goal demonstrated her ability under pressure in the box to turn and shoot with accuracy.

In the team’s away match against Juventus, Chawinga demonstrated her ability to accelerate quickly, shake off multiple defenders, and anticipate the goalkeeper’s move, scoring the team’s first goal in their eventual 3-3 draw against last season’s champions. Chawinga would earn a brace in that game, with the game tying goal coming from Ghoutia Karchouni.

Chawinga’s ability to read a game and constant readiness has made her a vital contributor to the club’s success this season. Nothing demonstrates that more than her goal away at Sampdoria. The team would go on to win 2-0.

Further exemplifying her attacking abilities for the club, Chawinga is tied for third place in assists in the league, one behind her teammate Karchouni, and two behind Juventus’s Julia Grosso.

This season, Serie A Femminile became fully professional, bringing in a change to the competitive framework of the league. The top flight of Italian women’s soccer dropped from 12 teams to 10 this season and divided the campaign into two phases. In the first phase, the 10 teams play a balanced schedule of home and away matches against each other. In the second phase, the top five teams enter the Poule Scudetto (title round) to compete for the title. The top two teams from this round also qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

The bottom five teams compete in the Poule Salvezza (salvation round) to avoid relegation, with the bottom finisher going straight into Serie B, and the second from the bottom playing the second place Serie B team to stay in Serie A.

In fourth place, Inter is 18 points clear of the sixth place team. With only one match remaining in the first phase, Inter is all but guaranteed a ticket to the Poule Scudetto. The team currently sits 13 points behind first place Roma, but that won’t matter once phase two starts. Perhaps it is Tabitha Chawinga that will help Inter compete for their first ever Scudetto.