Scores of fans including the national under-20 women’s team, who next weekend go into a similar crusade when they face Equatorial Guinea for a place at Canada World Cup finals, and the entire Football House staff, cheered on as the new Zambian heroines sung gospel songs on their way to the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport V.I.P area.
Senior sports officials led by Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) chairperson, Mwamba Kalenga, Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) vice-president, Boniface Mwamelo and FAZ technical director, Honour Janza, among others, were also on hand to welcome th Zambian lasses.
The Grace Chanda-inspired Zambian side beat the Bantwana, as the South African side is known, 3-1 to make the World Cup winning 6-4 after the two-legged matches.
A visibly excited coach Albert Kachinga praised the team for the extraordinary feat but was quick to say that the qualification was just one part of the job which was even tougher than what had been achieved.
Kachinga attributed the qualification to good preparations, hard work and belief from the players.
He, however, said South Africa was a tough opponent both at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka and at their home turf where Zambia defied odds to beat them convincingly.
“It was tough and we must say here that this was down to God’s favour. No one expected us to do this but the girls believed they could do it for Zambia and it is an honour to coach a team that is going to the World Cup.
“This is quite amazing. They players should keep their feet on the group but walk with their heads high. They must remain focused and continue working hard. That is the secret to success,” said Kachinga, who was visibly overjoyed by the achievement.
Chanda, scorer of the two goals that sunk Bantwana, said she was ‘extremely’ happy to contribute to Zambia’s success and was anxious to represent the country at the World Cup which will be held in Costa Rica in March.
Team star winger, Ireen Lungu said God was with Zambia in both ties and was quick to urge her colleagues to keep their cool, focus on the job ahead and avoid any vices that may not just endanger their young and fledging careers, but their lives as well.
“Once I am free, I am going into devotion to thank God for what he has done for me and team so far. I always put God first and I urge the girls to put God first also,” she said.
Acting FAZ general secretary, Julio Chiluba praised the team, describing them as a special group which had done what several generation of players had failed to do.
Times of Zambia | FAZ