•  The Black Queens have made giant strides under their Swiss coach, Nora Hauptle
• The Black Queens have made giant strides under their Swiss coach, Nora Hauptle

Olympic Games qualifiers: Black Queens face Zambia test Friday

Ghana's Black Queens face the task of overcoming a tough Zambian challenge, led by the world's most expensive female footballer, Racheal Kundananji, when the two sides meet in the third round of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers on Friday.


The match, which comes off at the Accra Sports Stadium (kick-off is scheduled for 5p.m.), will test the mettle of the Ghanaian side as they aim to secure victory against Zambia before the reverse fixture at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola five days later.

So far, the Black Queens have been impressive in the qualifiers, boasting a 7-0 aggregate thumping of Guinea in July and a 5-0 aggregate record against Benin last October. Their winning streak since Swiss coach Nora Häuptle took over reflects both improvement and the strength of the Ghanaian side.

The Copper Queens of Zambia also advanced to the penultimate stage of the qualifiers via a walkover after Mali’s withdrawal from the competition.

When the two sides last played six years ago, the Zambians demonstrated a strong fighting spirit after rallying a two-goal deficit to defeat the Black Queens 3-2 in a friendly match at the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka ahead of the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

Star striker Kundananji scored a second half hat-trick to secure a remarkable comeback victory for the Copper Queens.

The Zambian forward remains a threat to Ghana's Olympic dreams and is hopeful that her side can get a decent result in Accra and advance after the return encounter, even though she reckons the Black Queens are a formidable opponent with many good players.

"We hope to get at least a point and return to finish the job at home."

"We want to qualify this time. The Ghana game will be different; it won't be an easy game but we are ready to face them," said the experienced Kundananji who recently joined USA side Bay FC for a world record fee of $788,000.

With experience from previous international tournaments, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Zambia boasts a seasoned squad ready for high-stakes encounters such as the upcoming Olympic qualifiers.

Ghana coach Häuptle is expected to rely on her foreign-based players, including experienced midfielder Freda Ayisi of English side Charlton Athletic Women, to bolster the team's chances of victory and progression to the final round of the qualifiers.

Formerly of Arsenal and Birmingham FC, Ayisi is known for her ball-juggling skills and agility on the field, and could make her international debut in Accra, bringing added dynamism to the midfield.

The Ghana coach is expected to maintain a trusted line-up of goal poachers Doris Boaduwaa of Spartak Subotica and Evelyn Badu of Fleury 91, Comfort Yeboah of Ampem Darkoa Ladies, AS FAR Rabat's Maafia Nyame and Jennifer Cudjoe of FC Nordsjaelland for Friday’s task.

On the other hand, Zambia coach Bruce Mwape has retained most of the players who completed the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) qualification task against Angola in the team that he has invited.

Coach Mwape has also called up Green Buffaloes striker Kabange Mupopo, the experienced Kundananji (Bay FC), Barbra Banda (Shanghai Shengli-China) and Rachael Nachula (Hapoel Jerusalem-Israel) as he hopes to qualify her side for their second successive Olympic Games.

The winner of the two-legged matchup will face either Tunisia or Morocco in the final round of the qualifiers for a spot at the Paris Olympic Games.

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