“Why didn’t we see this earlier?” Was the reaction of many after the final whistle blew to signal the end of what was an exciting match between Zambia and Brazil at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The team lost but the performance gave real hope for the future of Zambian women’s football although many were left to ponder what would have happened had the team showed the same resolve, resilience and character in the first match against The Netherlands.
Well, no point mourning over spilt milk, but there is no denying the team made tremendous improvement in the short space between that first match mauling at the hands of an accomplished Netherlands side and that gutsy 1-0 loss to Brazil in its last match of the first round.
The highlight , for many fans, will have been the enthralling 4-4 draw gainst China in a game that the Zambian girls could well have won had they taken all their chances.
All in all, the team’s general performance in only its first ever appearance at the Olympics gave the technical bench some very valuable data to work with as the women’s game continues to improve.
The players showed that they have what it takes to compete at the highest level and against great players as long as certain things like infrastructure, women’s league and sponsorship among a few are put in place.
There is a huge challenge for the team to qualify for the Paris 2024 Games and before that, there will be issues of the Morocco 2022 Women’s AFCON qualifiers to be addressed that commences this October against Malawi.
There is also the COSAFA competition to run from September 9-19.
Expectations will be high from fans to see this team progress and become a superpower not only in African football but at world stage but this would need proper care for the players who have returned back home.
Save for the players competing outside the country in some organised leagues, the cry remains for the players in the FAZ National Women’s League.
The competitiveness of the team would be key towards Zambia continuing to dominate Africa and most importantly ensure that the country exports as many players as possible to the best Women’s Leagues in Europe and the USA especially after competing against the pedigree from those structures at the Olympics.
The team would need to be motivated with some incentives because that has been the cry of the women’s team who feel the men’s team are always highly motivated despite results not forthcoming.
The Fundraising committee that was formed to raise money for the team ahead of the Tokyo Games should be kept very active but should strive to even work harder and see to it that the women’s national league gets a high-profile sponsor/s.
Having sponsors would greatly help the league become competitive and help produce more players to feature and strengthen the national team. Let not the girls be abandoned until when there is a next assignment.
The technical bench and FAZ have a big role to play and ensure that this team remains in place and fights for the AFCON qualification and ultimately bounce back to the Olympic Games in France.
As the Zambia women’s team battled Brazil in their final Group F match in Tokyo, news filtered through sadly that Mr. Beston Chambeshi has been appointed caretaker coach for the Chipolopolo to be assisted by Mumamba Numba.
I have nothing against the two gentlemen but just not comfortable with having coaches attached on interim basis at such a critical time.
It has always proved a challenge to have a coach employed by the club to diligently carry out these duties for both country and club as one always tends to suffer.
Zesco United are Zambia’s envoys in the Champions League and the team would need to prepare adequately for the continental showpiece as well as defending their league crown.
On the other hand, Nkana had a season to forget and would need to seriously strategise ahead of the new campaign if the record 13-time Zambian champions are to equally perform well. Thus, I am not sure how the coaches would be able to balance club-versus-country duties and only time will tell.
In the past, history shows where some coaches who were found in this predicament ended up losing their full-time employment if a club does not perform well.
And it is for this reason that a full-time coach is needed urgently especially looking at the serious assignment at hand…the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers should not be looked at like the COSAFA Cup.
These regional competitions have no pressure but we need coaches that can raise the bar and qualify for events like Olympics and AFCON including World Cup competitions not hiding in eye-openers.
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