Coach Mwape summons more players to prepare for Tokyo Olympics

Zambia Women National Team coach Bruce Mwape has handed calls-ups to three players after Saturday’s friendly match dubbed All Stars versus The Rest squad.

The All Stars comprised the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bound squad while the rest represented the best local talent not in the Copper Queens team.

Mwape’s Copper Queens won the match 4-1 at Woodlands Stadium which was staged as a curtain raiser for the 2021 ABSA Cup final.

Red Arrow’s trio of goalkeeper Chiko Nkhoma, strikers Mary Mambwe and Square Maiwase have been recalled to the Copper Queens setup currently preparing for the Tokyo 2020 (to be played in 2021) Olympic Games.

Nkhoma produced several saves throughout the match while Maiwase scored the consolation goal in The Rests’ 1-4 loss at the hands of the Copper Queens, who got their goals through Siomara Mapepa, Avell Chitundu, Barbara Banda and Ochumba Oseke.

“The three showed that they can play for the senior national team and the goalkeeper will be able to provide competition to the current goalkeepers that are in camp,” coach Bruce Mwape said shortly after Tuesday’s training session.

Zambia have been drawn in Group F alongside Brazil, China and Netherlands. Group E has Japan, Canada, Great Britain and Chile while Group G has Sweden, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

“Those are just names, the game is played in 90 minutes so if we start looking at names, then our girls won’t be able to perform according to our plan. We know we are meeting champions like Brazil and playing teams such as those make us improve our standard of play,” Mwape said.

“Like they say, to be a champion you need to beat the best and those are the best teams and to me, it’s okay; it’s the 90 minutes that will tell and we are not very far from being ready (for the Olympics).”

The Copper Queens are currently in camp as part of preparations for the Olympic Games.

Zambia has so far played Chile whom they beat 2-1 before losing to South Africa 3-1.

Midfielder Ireen Lungu, who was part of the Zambia Under-17 squad at the 2014 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, said she was happy to be part of the Copper Queens and is ready to raise her game at the sports extravaganza.

“There is no group (at the Olympics) which is easy, we just have to be ready for it and we will do it. I am ready to prove myself and as a team, we are ready to represent the country and Africa,” Lungu said.

Skipper Barbara Banda, who plies her trade for Shanghai Shengli in China, said the team has quality players comprising a mix of old and new players all hungry to represent the country at the highest stage.

“In football anything can happen and to those doubting us, we will show them what we are capable of doing as the women’s national team. We are focused and know our target going into the Olympics.”

“The only thing that can help us is to have more friendlies before we get to the Olympics because we have to see where we are lacking and catch up and the coach has a system and tactics which we have to get used to before we go for the Olympics,” she added.

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