By SHAMAOMA MUSONDA –
at Nkoloma Stadium
Zambia 2 Tanzania 1
THE Zambia women soccer team yesterday gave the country a befitting Valentines present by narrowly beating Tanzania in the 9th Africa Women Championship (AWC) first round, first leg qualifier and put one step into final round.
Despite carrying a 2-1 first leg advantage, Zambia still have an uphill battle in the return match in Tanzania where a 1-0 victory for the hosts could throw out Charles Bwale’s lasses from the competition.
In a match played on a Friday afternoon – an odd day for a match in Zambia -, the She-polopolo showed enough resolve to qualify to the October 2014 AWC finals in Namibia and keep the winds of women football success blowing in the country.
After creating a mountain of chances in the first half which were all wasted, Zambia came into the second-half more purposeful and pressed their Tanzanian opponents who had goalkeeper, Fatamu Oman to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable.
But it was just a matter of time before a goal came for Zambia and though they first had to deal with Oman, who first parried a Misozi Chisha shot from inside the box.
The scoring chance came when Oman’s parried ball fell deliciously for second half substitute Helen Mubanga, who slammed in low from close range on 76th minutes.
The goal sent the packed stands at the stadium into wild celebrations as the fans begun smelling Namibia where African representatives to the 2015 Women’s World Cup will be decided.
Whereas the fans smelled Namibia, the She-polopolo on the pitch sensed blood and went out hitting the Tanzanians from all angles and eventually got what they were looking for in the 80th minute. Chisha benefited from a confusion in the Tanzania backline which saw the impressive Oman collide with Fatamu Issa, to double Zambia’s lead.
After that, Zambia became classical and once saw Meyar Banda shoot well from long range after a neat build up but Oman was equal to the task.
Later a deliciously chipped cross by Rachael Lungu was missed by Mubanga by an inch and instead landed her leg against the post.
But with Zambia seemingly destined for a comfortable 2-0 win, Tanzania struck from the blues.
The Zambian defence was caught napping and allowed Tanzania left back Darrel Donisa to connect and quieten the crowd who weighed the dangers of the away goal.
“What is important is a win, yes we would have loved a clean sheet but what is important is we won and we also played well. We were also a bit wasteful in the first half,” were the words of Bwale.
He admitted his players could have made the away tie easier by scoring more from the chances created but remained bullish that Zambia would still make the next qualifying round.
Tanzania coach, Rogasian Kaijaee, whose team was outplayed, was shell-shocked at the quality of the Zambian team saying :”I knew Zambia was a good side but never expected them to be so good. The only good thing about today is that we now know them and we shall find ways of dealing with them”.
Kaijaee said there were up to three players in the Zambian team who were of high quality but that he would find a strategy to deal with them in the return leg set for February 28.