Kachinga upbeat despite ZAMBIA Under-17 women defeat

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ZAMBIA Under-17 women coach Albert Kachinga
ZAMBIA Under-17 women coach Albert Kachinga

ZAMBIA Under-17 women coach Albert Kachinga has saluted the players for putting up a good performance in their World Cup debut despite losing to Italy at the weekend.
Kachinga said in a post match interview that it is never easy to play the opening game at the World Cup final but was impressed that the girls accounted themselves well against an experienced Italian side.
Zambia opened the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup account on Saturday night on a poor note, losing to spirited Italy in a Group A opening match which featured two debutants at the Estadio Nacional De Costa Rica.
It was player-of-the-match, Annamaria Serturini, a first half substitute, who broke the hearts of the junior She-polopolo with two stinging goals on either side of this bruising match which saw Italy’s two top players leave the pitch with some serious injuries.
The loss did not just leave the Zambian lasses in tears but also with a gigantic assignment against South American champions, Venezuela, who battered hosts Costa Rica 3-0 in the other Group A game, on Tuesday.
But Kachinga said he was not too disappointed with the result because Zambia was facing one of the football powerhouses in the world.
“I am not planning on making too many changes, but I hope my defence can make the difference. Though we lost 2-0, it’s a respectable result as far as I am concerned because Italy are a great footballing nation both in terms of men’s and women’s football,” he said.
Italy coach, Enrico Sbardella said good tactical approach won them the game against a physically strong Zambian team.
After a nervous start to this match, the teenage Zambians managed to settle quickly and could have taken an early lead in the third minute but Le Azzurrine’s Valentina Bergamaschi made a timely block to deny Janny Mubanga a goal.
However, a near-horrendous error by goalkeeper, Hazel Nali almost gifted Italy with a goal on 11 minutes as a seemingly harmless ball came off her chest before narrowly missing the upright.
With five minutes to the break, Memory Phiri saw her well-struck shot saved by Italy goalkeeper, Francesca Durante.
Almost immediately, Italy responded with Serturini, who beat Nali with a low drive after racing onto a Manuela Giugliano through-ball, putting Le Azzurrine in the lead.
Taking advantage of laxity in the Zambian rearguard, Serturini on 52 minutes outwitted his markers before unleashing another an unstoppable shot past Nali, snuffing out chances of any junior She-polopolo fight back.
The Zambian players clearly struggled to string up some decent passes as playmaker and skipper Ireen Lungu, who could not tick on day, limped off the pitch.
Despite Italy finishing the match with 10 players after Flamina Simonetti was stretched off the pitch injured, Zambia, the fifth African nation to compete in an Under-17 Women’s World Cup, could not just take advantage of their numerical advantage.
Kachinga’s team is now hoping not to follow the sequence for African teams who failed to reach the knock out stages on their debut appearance at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
In the second Group A match which was preceded by a colourful opening ceremony, Deyna Castellanos scored a brace with Lourdes Moreno getting the other in the 3-0 thrashing of hosts, Costa Rica.
Zambia now desperately needs maximum points off Venezuela tomorrow to rekindle their chances of qualifying to the quarter-finals.

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