By SHAMAOMA MUSONDA –
THE Zambia Under-17 girl’s team played its first practice match in the United States of America (USA) losing 1-0 to San Francisco University team as the squad continues to shape up for the Costa Rica 2014 World Cup finals.
And a number of preparatory matches have been arranged for the Albert Kachinga squad ahead of the World Cup finals opening match on March 15.
Led by skipper, Ireen Lungu, the Zambian girls dazzled the San Francisco senior team in a match that, despite the chilly weather, the training session attracted a horde of coaches from girls football clubs around the state of California, who made several enquiries about the star players.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) committee member, Lenny Nkhuwa, who is also women football chairperson, expressed happiness with the performance of the team.
Nkhuwa said in an interview yesterday that the delegation, that also includes FAZ vice-president Boniface Mwamelo, were impressed with the team’s showing in training.
She said Zambia would not disappoint at their maiden World Cup where the team is in Group A along with hosts Costa Rica, Italy and Venezuela.
“The Under-17 team had a friendly with San Francisco University women’s team earlier in the day. The girls played very well, considering that the San Francisco University girls were much older,” she said.
She said Kachinga started the first half with his strongest side to draw 0-0 before the second string succumbed to a 1-0 defeat despite putting up a spirited fight.
“The first team was the first choice and we played well. Very good showing from the whole team but a number of players including the captain did exceptionally well.
The whole team played well but Margaret Belemu, Natasha Witika, Ireen Lungu Martha Tembo, Judith Zulu and Mary Wilombe stood out from the rest. Overall, the girls look a promising prospect for the World Cup,” she said.
The team will remain camped in the San Francisco until next week before leaving for San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
The full team has goalkeepers Edna Phiri, Hazel Nali and Musole Ng’ambo while the defenders are Chimwmewe Mwale, Wilombe, Mary Mulenga, Martha Tembo, Bridget Lungu and Given Mukamba.
Kachinga has picked Barbara Banda, Grace Mulaisho, Osala Kaleo, Belemu, Lungu, Helen Chanda, Witika and Judith Zulu as midfielders with Jane Mubanga leading the strikers that include Grace Chanda, Memory Phiri and Penelope Mulumbwa.