A HIGH-POWERED Government delegation led by Vice-President Guy Scott’s wife, Charlotte and Sports Minister, Chishimba Kambwili arrived here to ensure the Zambian team gets maximum support ahead of today’s tough opening FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2014 match against Italy.
The delegation, which also includes Sports Permanent Secretary Agnes Musunga, director of sport Bessy Chelemu and other Government officials, jetted in at Santa Maria International Airport on Thursday night around 19:20 hours local time (03:20 hours Friday, Zambian time).
With the arrival of Government dignitaries and Charlotte, who is the squad’s patron, morale in the team’s camp at Double Tree By Hilton Hotel reached its highest peak as the jubilant players broke into some inspirational songs to welcome the officials.
Speaking when he addressed the team, Kambwili gave the Zambian lasses a modest challenge of qualifying to the quarter-finals.
Kambwili said Government would not put the team under a lot of pressure but urged Albert Kachinga’s lasses to at least aim for a knock stage place.
“I am sure you know why you are here. You made history by coming here after a great performance. But we don’t want to put too much pressure on you.
We want you to reach the quarterfinals, we’re not expecting a lot from you. Government is behind you and we want to nurture you into future women football stars,” he told players.
The minister, who was also the bearer of President Michael Sata’s goodwill message to the team, said the Head of State had a lot of confidence in the squad which last year made Zambian women football history by qualifying to the World Cup finals.
“This is your time, you were last week celebrating International Women’s Day and this week you were celebrating the Youth Day. Everything is with you,” Kambwili psyched the players.
He said the team’s performance here would also help in determining their teenage girls’ football future.
Kambwili said it was also Government’s belief that the two-week training camp in the United States of America had instilled confidence in the team and removed the spirit of fear from the players.
He said Government also had confidence in Kachinga’s abilities and appealed to the team to focus on their tasks as the entire Zambian football fraternity was behind them.
Musunga said Charlotte and the entire Government delegation was excited to be in Costa Rica and expressed confident the Zambian lasses would again do the nation proud.
Zambia, who are accommodated with all three Group A rivals – hosts Costa Rica, Venezuela and Italy – at Double Tree By Hilton Hotel, will open the World Cup campaign against Italy today (01:00 hours Sunday, Zambian time).