Breaking News: Zambia storm final round of Olympics Qualifiers with win over Kenya
The Zambia national women’s soccer team has qualified for the final round of the Tokyo Olympics qualifier after they beat Kenya 1 – 0 at Nkoloma Stadium to advance on a 3 – 2 aggregate scoreline.
Free-kick specialist Lushomo Mweemba scored the only goal of the match that sent Zambia to the fifth round to set-up a meeting with either Côte d’Ivoire or Cameroon.
Coach Bruce Mwape made one change to the team that forced a draw away in Nairobi as captain Misozi Zulu dropped to the bench with Rachael Nachula taking her place.
The Copper Queens started strong, dominating play and creating chances. The first real chance fell to Rachel Kundananji who was put through on goal by Barbara Banda with only the goalkeeper to beat but Kazakhstan based forward was denied by the crossbar.
Zambia continued to control the match and nearly got their break minutes later after Rachel Nachula was found in acres of space on the right-wing but the Green Buffaloes forward weak shot did not trouble Annette Kundu in the Harambee Starlets as she came out to reduce the space.
Barbara Banda who was lively all afternoon was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty to Zambia, Kundananji stepped up but her poorly taken penalty hit the post to keep the scores level at 0-0.
Coach Bruce Mwape made a first-half change withdrawing Rachel Nachula who was having a bad day and brought in Misozi Zulu. The match went to the break level at 0-0.
Zambia finally took the lead 12 minutes into the second stanza, Lushomo Mweemba with a long-range free-kick that looked to be an easy one to deal with but Kundu made a mess of it to gift Zambia the lead, 1-0.
Starlets tried to come back with Mwanalima Adam and Cynthia Shilwatso leading the charge but Hazel Nali’s superb saves kept the score at 1-0. Hellen Mubanga came on to replace Kundananji late in the match and showed glimpses of what she can do.
Kenya finished the match with ten players after Ruth Ingosi was sent off for a second bookable offense following a tackle on Barbara Banda. Zambia held on to win the match 1-0 and progress to the final round with a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
Zambia will face the winner over Cameroon and Ivory Coast with the winner of the final round qualifying to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics while the runner up will face Chile in the playoff.
16 Hazel Nali, 8 Margaret Belemu, 13 Martha Tembo, 5 Anita Mulenga, 3 Lushomo Mweemba, 12 Rhoda Chileshe, 20 Nachula (Misozi Zulu), 17 Mary Mwakapila, 14 Racheal Kundananji, 11 Barbara Banda B, 10 Grace Chanda
1 Kundu, 3 Makokha, 15 Kinyua, 5 Nixon Dorcas (C), 20 Ingosi, 17 Odhiambo, 14 Mutukita, 6 Andiba, 2 Jereko, 4 Musungu, 10 Milimu
Harambee Starlets Starting XI
1. Annette Kundu (GK), 3. Vivian Nasaka, 15. Wincate Kaari, 5. Dorcas Shikobe (C), 20. Ruth Ingosi, 17. Vivian Corazone, 14. Elizabeth Wambui, 4. Cynthia Shilwatso, 6. Sheril Andiba, 2. Mwanalima Adam, 10. Gentrix Shikangwa
18. Judith Osimbo (GK), 19. Monica Odato, 11. Nelly Sawe, 19. Lumasia Siliya, 13. Lucy Akoth, 12. Lydia Akoth, 9. Topistar Situma, 7. Janet Bundi, 8. Mercy Airo
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