2018 Women’s AFCON: Zambia coach, captain eye World Cup slot

Author: Beatrice Laryea
Bruce Mwape

Head Coach of the Zambian women’s football team Bruce Nwape says his charges will go all out in the 2018 Total Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, to at least pick a slot to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in France.

In a similar vein, star striker and captain of the team, Barbara Banda says their aim is to make it to the World Cup promising to work hard to make the dream a reality.

The 2018 Women’s AFCON serves as qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with three top teams from the competition expected to represent the continent in France.

In separate interviews on Wednesday evening after the team’s arrival at the Kotoka International Airport, both Coach Mwape and Barbara Banda stated that their main aim at the 2018 Women’s AFCON was to qualify for the world football fiesta in France.

“Qualifying for this tournament was not easy. It was actually a tough time for us so we expect every team that is here to actually do well but on our side, I can say that we are prepared and our aim is to qualify to the World Cup,” said the 58-year-old coach.

He continued: “In football anything can happen. You just don’t expect the same things to happen every time. Nigeria are the defending champions but people should not think that others will just sit down and watch Nigeria to take the cup again. Zambia is here for the same purpose of winning the cup.”

According to the veteran trainer, their last international friendly against Ghana played on November 3 at the Nkoloma Stadium which they won 3-2, was a morale booster for his charges hoping they will replicate the feat in the upcoming tournament.

He was appointed as the head coach of the Shepolopolo in May after having coached Zambia’s U-20 and U-23 national teams.

For her part, Barbara Banda said: “We came here as a team with a purpose and we have one goal. We are here to qualify for the World Cup so we will continue to work hard to meet our target.”

Banda scored Zambia's first and only Women's AFCON goal during their debut appearance at the 2014 edition. She also netted three of the teams' six goals en route to qualifying for Ghana 2018.

Her 86th minute goal ensured qualification at the expense of neighbours Zimbabwe on the away goals rule. She currently plies her trade with EDF Logroño in Spain and on November 4 she scored her debut goal for the club.

The Shepolopolo are making their second appearance at the women’s showpiece this year following a poor debut campaign at the 2014 edition in Namibia.

Zambia will commence their campaign against Equatorial Guinea in the group stages on Sunday, November 18 in Cape Coast before tackling Nigeria and South Africa later.

Confirmed Zambia squad (21 players):

Goalkeepers: Catherine Musonda (Indeni), Hazel Nali (Green Buffaloes), Chiko Nkhoma (Red Arrows)

Defenders: Lushomo Mweemba (Nwazi), Anita Mulenga (Green Buffaloes) Margaret Belemu (Red Arrows), Martha Tembo (Green Buffaloes), Jacqueline Nkole (Indeni), Agness Musase (Green Buffaloes), Vast Phiri (Zesco), Grace Zulu (Indeni)

Midfielders: Mary Mwakapila, Ireene Lungu (Green Buffaloes), Judith Zulu (Green Buffaloes), Hellen N. Chanda (Red Arrows), Avell Chitundu (Zesco)

Strikers: Hellen Mubanga (Red Arrows), Grace Chanda (Zesco), Lubandji Ochumba Oseke (Nkwazi), Racheal Kundanaji (Indeni), Barbara Banda (EDF Logroño, Spain)