Venezuela 4 Zambia 0 –
ZAMBIA’S hopes of making an impact at their first-ever FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup came to an abrupt end on Tuesday night after the junior She-polopolo were crushed by an experienced Venezuela side in their second Group A match at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica here.
A second half hat trick by Gabriela Garcia and another strike by Deyna Castellanos shattered the dreams of Albert Kachinga’s team and ensured Zambia became the fifth African nation to fail to reach the knock-out stage of the competition on their debut.
Zambia has now followed in the footsteps of Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and South Africa, all of whom failed to qualify to the quarter-finals on their first appearance at the FIFA Under-17 Women’s global football showpiece.
And Kachinga conceded that his charges lost to a better side and that it had been a learning experience for the Zambian lasses at this year’s World Cup.
After losing the opener 2-0 to Italy, Zambia, with three changes to the starting line-up, came into this match more forceful, pushing for an early breakthrough as Ireen Lungu, who gave back the captain’s armband to Martha Tembo, made some dazzling runs on the left flank.
However, it was Venezuela, who almost grabbed a goal on four minutes following a defensive lapse but Garcia miscued the ball with only goalkeeper, Hazel Nali to beat.
Striker Grace Chanda then had a chance to put Zambia ahead on eight minutes after Venezuela goalkeeper, Franyely Rodriguez spilled a seemingly harmless Janny Mubanga shot only for the Ndola-based player hit tamely at goal, forcing a corner kick in the process.
Against the run of play, La Vinotinto finally found the opener on 14 minutes through Castellanos, who rounded up Nali before slotting home.
Castellanos benefited from a defence-splitting pass from Garcia, who took advantage of Zambia’s defensive frailties, threading through the ball to the striker, who hit a brace against Costa Rica, register her third goal for the tournament.
Two minutes after restart, Garcia doubled La Vinotinto’s lead when she finished with aplomb following a counter-attack. On 58 minutes, the lanky Garcia added the second with a looping header from a delicious Castellanos’ cross, soaring above dimunitive junior She-polopolo defender, Margaret Belemu.
Czech Republic referee, Jana Adamjova ignored a Zambia appeal for a penalty after Barbara Banda was crudely brought down in the box on the hour mark.
Kachinga then did a double substitution, resting injured Given Mukanda for Bridget Lungu and Banda for Osala Kaleo before later throwing his last dice by introducing Memory Phiri for Mubanga in an attempt to get at least a goal.
But it was Venezuela who popped up again on 86 minutes when Castellanos completed her hat trick when he calmly tapped home in a one-on-one situation with Nali and ensure La Vinotinto seal a quarter-final berth.
Zambia will now play a formality game against hosts, Costa Rica, who were also ejected by Italy on Tuesday following a 1-0 loss, on Saturday.
Venezuela 4 Zambia 0 –