…Copper Queens beat Cosafa rivals to increase 2024 WAFCON
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia national women’s team is one step to qualifying for a third consecutive Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) after outclassing Angola 6-0 in the first leg of the final 2024 WAFCON qualifying round played at the Estádio Joaquim Dinis in Luanda, Angola.
A hat-trick from captain Barbra Banda and goals apiece from defender Lushomo Mweemba, Ireen Lungu and Rachel Kundananji gave the Bruce Mwape-drilled Copper Queens the vital win away from home to increase their chances of qualifying for the Morocco 2024 WAFCON.
The Copper Queens dominated their Cosafa rivals from the first whistle and almost went ahead in the sixth minute when Kundananji found the back of the net but the goal was ruled out as winger Ireen Lungu was deemed to have been offside.
Ten minutes before the half hour mark, Lungu tried her luck with an effort which was saved by the goal keeper Maria Muecalia.
Muecalia produced another impressive save in the 24th minute, denying Lungu from putting the Copper Queens ahead a minute after Kundananji had sent her effort over the bar.
Mweemba finally opened the flood gates five minutes before the break, scoring from close range after benefitting from Angola’s clumsy defending.
The Copper Queens doubled their lead in the last minute of the first stanza when Barbra Banda converted a penalty won after Kundananji was tripped in the box.
Before the referee could signal the end of the first half, Banda completed her brace in injury time after being set up unselfishly by Kundananji.
Lungu finally added her name on the score sheet three minutes before the hour mark when she converted from close range to give Zambia a 4-0 lead.
Four minutes after the hour mark, Banda completed her hat trick with a low close range shot from another assist from Kundananji.
The Madrid CFF striker outrun her marker on the right wing before laying the ball to Banda who made no mistake to give the Copper Queens a 5-0 lead.
After playing a key role in Zambia’s first five goals, Kundananji put the icing on the cake, scoring the sixth goal with a low shot from close range after benefitting from Rachel Nachula’s assist six minutes before the final whistle.
The victory in Luanda gave the Copper Queens the advantage going into the reverse fixture slated for December 5 at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Lusaka.
Angola will need a 7-0 victory in Ndola to qualify for the prestigious continental championship which will be held in Morocco for a second consecutive time.