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Mapepa rescues Buffaloes 

By MICHAEL MIYOBA

COPPER Queens striker Xiomara Mapepa came off the bench in her debut for Green Buffaloes Women’s football club and scored the crucial equaliser as Buffaloes commenced the CAF Women’s Champions League/COSAFA qualifiers 2023 title defence with a draw against Double Action Ladies.

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Double Action of Botswana had stunned the Zambian champions with an early goal in the 40th second of the first half at Sugar Ray Stadium in Durban before Mapepa’s second half equaliser.

“Not the result we expected but even as we were coming for this competition we knew that Double Action is not a team you can easily walk over. We started a bit low maybe because of the quick goal we conceded we only picked up in the second half after making changes so getting a draw as defending champions is sad for us because we wanted maximum points,” Buffaloes coach Carol Kanyemba said in a post-match interview. 

Lesego Radiakanyo beat Aisha Mbwana who coach Kanyemba had trusted to start in goal for Buffaloes.

Kanyemba, who is calling the shots in the absence of head coach Charles Halubono had given Enelesi Phiri, Comfort Selemani, and Martha Banda their debut competitive start for Buffaloes while the new signings Esther Banda, Salome Phiri, and Mapepa started from the bench.

After conceding an early goal, Buffaloes could have grabbed the equaliser in the 14th minute when Enelesi Phiri supplied a good cross to Maweta Chilenga who failed to put the ball into the back of the net. 

In the first minute of the second half, Kanyemba withdrew Joana Benaya, and Maweta Chilenga for Mapepa and Natasha “Little Tasha” Nanyangwe. 

It took Mapepa just for minutes to score a goal in her debut appearance for Buffaloes after making a switch from Elite Ladies last month.

Kanyemba made another double substitution in the 73 minute and introduced Salome Phiri and Diana Banda for Comfort Selemani and Loveness Malunga while Maylan Mulenga was replaced by Agnes Phiri.

The changes made no impact as Buffaloes held on to avoid defeat. The Zambian champions will now face Ntopwa FC of Malawi tomorrow while Double Action Ladies will play Lesotho Defence Force in a lunchtime kickoff. 

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