ZAMBIA this afternoon begin the quest for a place at the 2015 Africa Women’s Championship (AWC) with a first round date against Tanzania, the first leg match coach Charles Bwale says his team has to win.
This Valentine’s Day match set for Nkoloma Stadium In Lusaka has love written all over it as Zambian fans have fallen in love with women football.
It is coming at a time when women football is making headlines in the country and especially heightened by the under-17 team’s qualification to the FIFA Costa Rica World Cup finals.
The under-20 women also won the 2012 Zone Six Games.
Bwale’s side will be in the limelight today trying to keep Zambia’s passion in women football burning and the local sport in good light.
Armed with an array of players from the senior and under-20 team, Bwale has the perfect opportunity to set women football alight .
Added to the mix is the chipping in of Chipolopolo coach, Patrice Beaumelle, who has been helping shaping the team up for this Valentine’s Day encounter.
“The time we have been in camp has raised their confidence. They are stronger on the ball, fitter and well coordinated,” Bwale assured.
He said Zambia this year stood in good position to qualify for the 9th AWC finals set for Namibia, knowing that after this round, there was just one more hurdle to cross before grabbing a slot for the 2015 edition.
And in that hurdle is Botswana or Zimbabwe who are also playing this weekend.
Beaumelle praised the fitness levels of the women whom he described as excellent despite being in off-season.
A fitness test he carried out on Wednesday showed that the women were better than the men in the Chipolopolo.
“Their fitness is excellent. They are also doing well in training and moving the ball around pretty well. I am confident they can beat Tanzania especially with a cheering crowd,” he said.
But Tanzania coach Rogasian Kaijage has a different belief about the advantage that comes with playing at home, saying it simply does not exist.
“I do not believe in home advantage, a team should be able to win anywhere. And I want to maintain the country’s standard of playing at the Africa Cup and this one is no exception,” he said on arrival yesterday.
He was referring to the 2010 championships in South Africa where Tanzania qualified and remains their only participation at the AWC while Zambia only in 1995.
He admitted Zambia was a good side but that he prepared his charges well and remained confident Tanzania would roll over their hosts.
Bwale will be hoping Carol Howes will be in good scoring form together with her strike partner Misozi Zulu to dispatch the confident Tanzanians.
In midfield, Zambia can rely on the industrious Mary Mwakapila, Rachael Lungu and Nchawaka Saili with the defensive cover to be centred around Grace Zulu and assisted by Anita Mulenga and Meya Banda.
Times of Zambia