ZAMBIA Under-20 women soccer team coach Charles Bwale faces a stern test as he leads out his depleted squad to face African champions, Equatorial Guinea today in a second round, return leg qualifier for the Canada 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
Already down 2-0 down from the first leg played at sunset Stadium in Lusaka, Bwale’s problems would not have been compounded further by travel delays that saw him carry only 12 players with the rest expected to arrive an hour before kick off in a crucial must-win tie.
Zambia needs to beat their hosts 3-0 to advance to the final round of qualifiers while a 2-0 win will see the match going into extra time with penalties on offer should both sides remain tied on 2-all.
This will mean Bwale putting out a team that should attack in search of those goals and at the same defend to avoid Equatorial Guinea catching them on counter attacks especially with the dangerous runs.
From the 12 players that managed to scrap for seats on the Emirates flight on Friday, one is a goalkeeper, three defenders and six midfielders including two strikers meaning Bwale will need to reshuffle his squad should the remaining players fail to arrive in time or be fatigued.
Luckily Bwale has goalkeeper Hazel Nali, who was drafted from the Under-17 Costa Rica bound squad, to help keep a clean sheet with the help of three recognised defenders in Lwendo Chisamo, Emeldah Musonda and Anita Mulenga.
Bwale will need to drop one of these midfielders Rachael Lungu, Barbra Banda, Maclean Daka, Astridah Pupe, Milika Limwanya and Natasha Witika to beef up the defence while maintaining a disciplined four to stop Equatorial Guinea from dominating the middle of the park.
The huge task of scoring those vital goals for Bwale will surely rest on the boots of Jane Mubanga, Misozi Banda, who are the only two strikers that have been called into the team.
“I will not take chances in this game as every opportunity has to translate into a goal. Looking at the training we have had so far, I am confident that the team will work as a unit to get the victory,” Zulu said.
Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea coach Juan Micha will be expecting a good performance from Olive Christelle, who scored a brace in the 2-0 win, along with the likes of Victoria Mangue, Francesca Angue and Camila Maria