Vice-President Guy Scott has told the Zambia Under-17 girl’s team to be proud of their performance despite a group stage exit from the ongoing Costa Rica FIFA World Cup finals.
Scott said there was need for the team to maintain their confidence, especially that they played against some experienced teams and managed to beat the host team to come back home with three points.
The Vice-President said the team should pride itself in being among the best 16 teams in the world.
He said this when he welcomed the team on Monday night at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA), adding that Government was proud of the team’s achievement.
“We are very proud of you and you need to have pride in yourselves for being among the 16 best teams in the world. You need to be confident because you played experienced teams and also managed to beat the home side despite playing at home,” he said.
Scott also extended an invitation to the team for a luncheon at Government House on a date to be advised when the team gets some rest following their World Cup exploits.
Zambia opened her campaign with a 2-0 defeat against Italy before suffering a 4-0 bashing at the hands of Venezuela but recovered well in the last game to beat Costa Rica 2-1 to finish third in Group A.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya said the association was proud of the achievement of women football and urged the players to be proud for putting the country’s flag on the world map.
“We welcome you back as you left the comfort of your homes to go and play for the nation and you should feel proud of the efforts you have made towards putting Zambia on the world map. Remember the nation is proud of your efforts,” he said.
Kalusha said developing women football to where it is now has been a long journey but was confident that contributions of stakeholders would take women football to greater heights.
The FAZ chief urged the players to remain disciplined and focused, saying that was key if they were to qualify for other major tournaments.
He called on Government to help FAZ prepare the senior team adequately and ensure it qualifies for the Namibia 2013 Africa Women Championship (AWC) to be held in October.
Meanwhile, team captain Martha Tembo said the outing was tough because the players had no experience of playing at such a major tournament.
“Most of the players were scared to play in front of such big crowds in the stadium but we worked as a team and overcame that fear,” said Tembo, who was chosen as a man-of-the-match during the game against Costa Rica which Zambia won 2-1.
Another player, Ireen Lungu said her team lacked experience and appealed to FAZ to organise high-profile friendly matches so that the team can gain experience to compete at international level.
Others that welcomed the team that arrived shortly before 2100 hours aboard a South African Airline plane were Sports Deputy Minister Christopher Mulenga, Mines Deputy Minister Richard Musukwa, some senior government and Football House officials as well as some soccer fans.
Times of Zambia