From losing to Botswana in a world cup qualifier to winning silver at COSAFA
The Copper Princesses transition
Three years ago, The Zambia Women’s Under-17 National Team were drawn against Botswana Women’s Under-17 in the 2018 Uruguay FIFA Women’s World Cup preliminary first-round qualifier match.
This was another litmus test for the Copper Princesses to qualify for a second Under-17 Women’s FIFA World Cup after their maiden appearance in 2014 in Costa Rica.
The first leg of the preliminary round was played at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium on October 15, 2017, and the Copper Princesses edged the Young Mares with a comfortable 5-2 scoreline with the hero of the day is National Assembly prolific striker Christabel Felistus Phiri who scored 4 of the goals and this was arguably her best performance for Zambia
Captain of the side and sister to current National team star forward Hellen Mubanga, Lydia scored the other goal for Zambia while Michelle Abueng and Lone Gaefetoge scored a goal each for Botswana.
A fortnight later, Zambia traveled to Botswana and the Kaluba Kangwa drilled lasses, unfortunately, failed to replicate their home ground performance as they suffered an embarrassing 4-nil defeat away in Gaborone in the return match and their dream for a second World Cup appearance was shattered after going down 6-5 on Aggregate.
Skillful and talented Michelle Abueng who is now on the books of Football Association Of Zambia(FAZ) Lusaka Province side Yasa Queens and Lone Gaefetoge who had scored a goal each in the first leg finished off the business at home with Abueng scoring a hattrick while Gaefetoge put the icing on the cake to make it 4-nil in favor of the Young Mares who cruised into the next round and set up a derby date against Bantwana of South Africa.
From that team that played in the 2017 qualifiers, 90% of those young players have been consistent in the field of play both at their clubs and the National level.
As a result of that, we have seen a transition in the team because of consistency and hard work.
While some are still with the Under-17, most of those girls graduated to the Under-20 and were part of the Zambia Women’s Under-20 side that mint Silver medals at the Inaugural 2019 COSAFA Under-20 Women’s Championship in South Africa after a painful defeat at the hands of the Twiga Stars of Tanzania losing 2-1 in the final.
Among those who graduated from Under-17 to 20 is the then captain of the side Lydia Mubanga(Green Buffaloes Women Football Club), Mary Mambwe, Ochumba Oseke Lubanje(both Red Arrows Women Football Club), Anna Mukumbuta(Yasa Queens), Salome Phiri, Diana Banda, Constance Kamusu(all Bauleni United Sports Academy), Thelma Dyongela Phiri(Indeni Roses), Christine Thandiwe Ndhlovu(Zesco Ndola Girls),
Christine Kalange(Moba Queens).
With some new additions to the team like Regina Chanda, Xiomela Mapepe, Loveness Malunga, and the Brilliant Evarine Suzane Katongo coach Charles Haalubono has a good side that can easily qualify to the World cup with good preparation and proper guidance.
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