Zambia are the only other nation from the COSAFA region after South Africa to appear at the FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup having contested the 2014 finals in Costa Rica.
They will dream of a return and will look to the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship at the Region 5 Games Lilongwe 2022 from December 1-10 to lay the platform for building a squad towards that.
They managed a gold medal last time out in a shortened competition that contained only three teams after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 played havoc with the field.
It was a breeze too as they beat Botswana (3-1) and Namibia (2-0) in the group stages, before they met Botswana again in the final and ran out 4-0 winners.
It was a welcome win after they had to settle for the silver medal in the previous tournament, defeated on penalties by Tanzania in the final after a 1-1 draw. They had looked on course for gold but conceded a penalty late on and then went down via spot-kicks.
It was still a successful tournament for the side in 2020 as they won all four of their pool matches, including a 2-1 victory over hosts South Africa. That was followed by a group stage win over Tanzania by the same scoreline, and victories over Comoros (3-0) and Zimbabwe (5-2).
Zambia managed a bronze at the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship in
Mauritius in 2019, as they showed plenty of guts to earn a point in their pool opener against eventual winners Uganda, a game that finished 1-1.
That was followed by big wins over Comoros Islands (15-0) and Mauritius (8-0) to earn a place in the semifinals.
There they came up against hosts and old nemesis South Africa, but lost 2-1, before going on to claim a 3-0 success against Botswana in the third-place play-off.
It means they have won bronze, silver and gold in successive years, and will now be looking for back-to-back triumphs after being drawn in Group B in Lilongwe.
They face Botswana again in their opener on December 1, before a second pool game against Comoros four days later. The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.
Zambia first entered the running for World Cup qualification in 2008 but lost 6-0 on aggregate to Ghana in the preliminary round, and then skipped the 2010 qualifiers.
Zambia defeated Botswana 7-1 in the 2012 qualifiers, but then lost by the same margin on aggregate to Nigeria in the next stage. They beat Botswana again 8-3 on aggregate in the first stage ahead of the 2014 finals and were a surprise 6-4 aggregate winners over South Africa following a 3-3 home draw and a 3-1 away win.
They sealed their place in Costa Rica, where they put in a decent showing. They lost their first two games to Italy (0-2) and Venezuela (0-4) but did beat the hosts 2-1 in their last match.
Zambia withdrew from the 2016 qualifiers ahead of their tie with South Africa, and then were 6-5 aggregate losers to Botswana despite leading 5-2 from the first leg.
They had a walkover against Namibia in the latest round of qualifying, but then lost 3-2 on aggregate to South Africa despite winning the first leg 2-0 at home.
The final tournament was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They had a walkover against Namibia in the last set of qualifiers this year, but then lost 5-0 on aggregate to Cameroon in the next round.
ZAMBIA’S COSAFA WOMEN’S UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD
2019 – Third
2020 – Runners-up
2021 – Winners
P W D L GF GA
13 10 2 1 50 9
Biggest victory: 15-0 vs Comoros (Group Stage, 22/09/2019)
Biggest defeat: 1-2 vs South Africa (Semifinals, 27/09/2019)
8 goals – Tisilile Lungu
7 – Florence Kasonde
6 – Cindy Banda
5 – Shelly Masumo
4 – Maweta Chilenga, Comfort Selemani
3 – Lucy Kajiya
2 – Taonga Chulu, Gracious Tailoshi, Jessy Zulu
1 – Bupe Banda, Esther Banda, Pumulo Lubasi, Precious Nsama, Zangose Zulu