Tanzania 1 Zambia 1
(2-3 aggregate score)
THE Zambia women senior soccer team yesterday marched into the final qualifying round of the 2014 Africa Women Championship (AWC) after knocking out Tanzania at their backyard in Dar-es-Salaam.
Zambia, who had won the first leg 2-1 on Valentines’ Day in Lusaka a fortnight ago, grabbed a vital away draw at Azam Sports Complex and to book a place in the decisive round of AWC qualifiers.
The She-polopolo’s prize for reaching this stage is another potentially tough assignment against either Zimbabwe or Botswana.
Zimbabwe, who lead this fixture 1-0, will host Botswana tomorrow in the decisive return leg.
With the Tanzania Football Federation scrapping gate charges to allow locals free entrance to into the complex, the Twiga Stars took a 35th minute lead, sending the locals into song.
Coach Rogasian Kaijage, who had promised to shock Zambia in Tanzania, saw his Twiga Stars hold their own until they finally crumbled 10 minutes to time.
Susan Banda ended Tanzania’s dream of a second appearance at the AWC with an 80th minute strike and keep alive hopes for Zambian showing up at the Namibia finals.
Inspired by a late equaliser, Charles Bwale’s She-polopolo fought hard to the end and ensure the tie was not decided on nerve-wrecking penalty shoot-outs.
An ecstatic Bwale praised his charges for qualifying to the final hurdle of the AWC journey and hoped they would continue with their impressive performance.
“It was not an easy game but the girls knew what they wanted. I’m impressed with the way they played. They have done us proud. I hope they will continue with the same spirit,” he said.
The Zambian lasses are expected back today.
Seven teams will emerge from the qualifiers to join hosts Namibia for the final tournament from October 11-24 where Africa’s envoy for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next year will emerge.
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) general secretary, George Kasengele described the She-polopolo’s qualification as a fantastic result for the nation.
Kasengele said the result was testimony of the achievements being scored since FAZ established the northern and southern leagues for the women.
He said Tanzania were not push-overs but the Zambian team proved their superiority over their hosts.
“What is happening in women football since we began the northern and southern leagues is the testimony of this. Our Under-17 women can now qualify to the World Cup and beat their nemesis South Africa,” Kasengele said.
Tanzania 1 Zambia 1