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DON’T GIVE UP

Government urges Copper Queens to stay focused

THE Copper Queens must not to be discouraged by the 0-0 draw against Namibia in the first leg of the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier played yesterday at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka, says Minister of Sports, Youth and Arts Elvis Nkandu.

The Copper Queens who were missing the services of injured skipper Barbra Banda struggled against Namibia despite having created numerous scoring opportunities which went begging.

Nkandu said the Copper Queens still have a chance to qualify for the AWCON despite the failure to beat Namibia on home soil.

“Well played, that is football, sometimes you draw, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win and you played so well despite not being clinical, but I know this is a team that can win anywhere,” Nkandu said.

Copper Queens coach Bruce Mwape said they would maintain a positive mentality of wishing to qualify for the AWCON heading into the reverse fixture scheduled for next Wednesday in South Africa.

And Namibia coach Woody Jacobs said he was proud of his players is confident that the Brave Gladiators will beat Zambia in the return leg fixture to make history of qualifying for the AWCON for the first time.

Meanwhile, Burundi and Burkina Faso both took a big step closer to securing a place at their first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after impressive wins in their second-round play-off first legs.

Burundi, who are unranked by FIFA, are now 90 minutes away from the 2022 Nations Cup after they crushed Djibouti 6-1.

Fresh from beating Ethiopia 6-0 over two legs in the first round, the home side raced into a 4-1 lead by half-time in Ngozi, before adding another two goals after the break.

Burkina Faso, also hoping to reach their first major tournament, thrashed Guinea-Bissau 6-0 away from home.

The visitors missed out on qualification in 2018 when they lost to the Gambia on penalties, but look to have effectively qualified this time around after their impressive first-leg win.

Elsewhere, Senegal edged out Mali 1-0..

Twenty countries face two-legged play-offs to qualify for the tournament in Morocco, with the first legs taking place February 16-18  and the returns between February 21-23.

Uganda, who were given a bye after Kenya withdrew, and hosts Morocco are already assured of a place at the finals, which will be played from July 2-23 this year. Africa’s representatives for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be decided at the Nations Cup, with the semi-finalists all booking spots in Australia and New Zealand.

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