U-17 women qualify for 2014 World Cup

Zambia U17 national team girls leaving Football House

GRACE Chanda was the heroine for the Zambia Women team after scoring a brace to propel her side to a historic first ever World Cup appearance after thrashing South Africa’s Bantwana in Johannesburg yesterday.
This highly charged fixture saw both sides finishing the game with a player less with Given Mukanda being sent off for a second bookable offence for Zambia while Bantwana’s Chamelle Wiltshire was also sent for an early shower for accumulating two yellow cards.
But despite losing Mukanda early in the match, the Zambian team still outplayed their hosts in this return match played at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg to book a place at the Costa Rica 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
Following a 3-all draw in the first leg in Lusaka, Zambia needed nothing short of a win to confirm their place at the finals that would be held from March 15 to April 5.
Zambia started the match on a fast note searching for that early goal and duly got the lead midway the first half when the Bantwana defence failed to clear their lines allowing Chanda to nod home the ball.
The home team, however, got the lifeline on the 43rd minute when they were awarded a penalty which was dispatched home by Gabriela Salgado.
The goal seemingly gave the home supporters some whiff of hope but that was soon dashed when Chanda scored her brace early in the second half beating keeper Juliet Sithole, who was guilty of some indecisiveness.
The goal seemed to have taken the fighting off Bantwana and looked out of sorts for the rest of the game despite Zambia playing a man less. Instead of pouring upfront searching for the equaliser, Bantwana were always outnumbered in the box.
Zambia finally put the game beyond doubt when Wiltshire was adjudged to have handled in the box and the Angolan referee handed Wiltshire, who was looking porous at the back, a second yellow card, with Ireen Lungu making it 3-1 to silence the home side.
‘We played badly especially at the back and we conceded, again some very soft goals,” a despondent Bantwana coach Botes told safa.com.
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya has lauded the women’s team historic qualification.
“It’s a great moment for our women’s football and a very proud moment for all of us at the FAZ because this momentous victory and qualification to the World Cup finals demonstrates the enormous strides we have scored and will continue scoring in football development,” an elated Kalusha said.
Kalusha congratulated the players, the technical staff for working hard to ensure that FAZ implements an ambitious women football development programme which was set into motion and enhanced with first ever creation of Under 17 and Under 20 girls teams.
“Our women’s football has waited too long and to play at our first ever women championship in the year of the golden jubilee of our independence makes it even more wonderful,” he said.