And Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili summed up Zambia’s elimination as unfortunate, saying the team should not use travel arrangements as an excuse because they had lost the game already at home in the 2-0 defeat.
The Charles Bwale coached Zambia Under-20 women team suffered a crashing 4-0 bashing in Malabo in a return leg having lost 2-0 at Sunset Stadium in Lusaka some two weeks ago.
Speaking in an interview from South Africa, Kalusha said the team still had the potential to reach greater heights despite suffering elimination at the hands of Equatorial Guinea.
Kalusha said that although missing out on clinching a World Cup spot was painful for both FAZ and the football fraternity, there was need to pick out the positives from the game.
He said having played a team of Equatorial Guinea’s calibre, Zambia had gained enough experience of playing top flight football and that there was need to get back to the drawing board and reorganise for future prospects.
Kalusha urged the players to remain focused adding that the loss to the reigning African champions should not dampen the team’s spirit to forge ahead.
The FAZ chief said women football in the country was on the rise but that there was need for stakeholders to increase support to the national teams.
He said Equatorial Guinea were able to perform exceptionally well on the continent because of the massive support that was being committed to their teams.
Kalusha said Zambia’s hopes now were in the Costa Rica-bound Under-17 women team, urging them to rise to the occasion for the country.
”The battle for the Canada World Cup spot was lost when Zambia conceded two unanswered goals at home and we knew that it was an uphill battle for them going into the second leg with a two goals deficit but what is more important is the experience the team gained.
“We now have to pick up our pieces and move on, our players and the technical team did the best they could but you know, luck was not on our side,” he said.
Kambwili said the team messed up at Sunset Stadium when they lost 2-0 and that it would be nonsense to attribute their failure to travel arrangements because they were only delayed by a day because of Ethiopian Airways over booking the flight.
“The team should not use travel arrangements as cover up for being humiliated 4-0 in Malabo because there were no travel arrangements when they failed to win at Sunset in Lusaka. But we can forgive the team because women football has not been developed to its best,” he said.
“It is not their fault. A lot still needs to be done to improve the standards of women football and we will continue to praise the Under-17 because they defied all odds,” he added.
Kambwili said he saw a bright future for women’s football in the country because a directive had already been given to the FAZ to establish a womens premier league.
“A league should be established for women football to improve the standards of the game, let us emulate South Africa whose women football league has bore results as evidenced by the way their teams are performing,” he said.
With the new Sports Policy to be launched next year, ‘Komboni Sports’ will also help in talent identification for girls and start developing sports from the grassroots.
And Chipolopolo Soccer Fans Association (CSFA) chairperson, Yotam Mwanza said the loss was a wake call to FAZ to introduce a women’s national league that would ensure the local womens game became competitive.
Times of Zambia