Zambian soccer returns to Olympics after long wait

Zambian football today returns to the Olympics after 33 years when the Copper Queens face Netherlands in a titanic Group F clash at Miyagi stadium on Wednesday.

The last Olympic qualification for any football team for Zambia was in 1988 when the team famously reached the quarterfinals.

Zambia had also previously qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Olympics although the country boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games for political reasons.

The spotlight today will be on the Barbara Banda captained that are the sole representatives for the African continent.

It is the first ever Olympic appearance for any women national football team for Zambia making the occasion memorable.

Zambia negotiated its way through a competitive qualification process that saw them sweep aside the indomitable lionesses of Cameroon in the final qualifying round in a two-legged tie.

The match will be live at 13:00hours CAT on the La Liga/Olympics Channel 3 on Supersport. China will be involved in a toe-to-toe fight with Brazil in the match that will kick-off at 10:00hours CAT.

Africa’s sole representatives are geared to produce a result against the Netherlands who will also be making their debut at the tournament after making their seventh attempt last year.

Although defender Martha Tembo is suspended for the opener, coach Bruce Mwape named a strong 22-member squad which is expected to compete for places, with Israel based goalkeeper Hazel Nali expected to start in goal ahead of Catherine Musonda and N’gambo Musole.

Lushomo Mweemba, Margaret Belemu and Anita Mulenga are all poised to start at the back that also has Fikile Khosa, Esther Siamfuko and Vast Phiri with midfielders Ireen ‘Xavi’ Lungu, Mary Wilombe, Hellen Chanda, Esther Namukwasa and Rachael Kundananji in contention to provide the cover and creativity in the middle of the park.

Tokyo 2020 CAF Qualifiers top scorer Grace Chanda is expected to lead the attack to partner Barbara Banda with Spain based Hellen Mubanga, Ochumba Oseke Lubanji and Avell Chitundu also available.

Argentine referee Laura Fortunato will take charge of the game assisted by countrymate Mariana de Almeida and Mary Blanco of Colombia. Mauro Vigliano will be the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Source: Football Association of Zambia