The national Under-17 girls team started its 2018 World Cup qualifiers campaign on a low note after a 5-2 hammering at the hands of Zambia in a preliminary round first leg encounter played on Sunday afternoon under hostile conditions at the Nkoloma Stadium.
The team had inadequate preparations after their camp was disrupted by the players’ school commitments.
Technical changes were also made as coach, Boniface Lekaba was forced to miss the trip due to work commitments and his assistant, Tapaphiwa Gaebolae took over the reigns.
The team did not have any international friendly match before facing Zambia, which is a regional powerhouse in the women’s game. Instead the team played Police XI’s Under-17 boys’ team.
Playing in front of a packed Nkoloma Stadium, the local girls showed signs of nerve as they conceded as early the 14th minute and by halftime the team trailed 3-0.
Lone Gaofetoge pulled one back in the 58th minute before the Zambians added the fourth goal. The local girls were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute and Michelle Abueng converted, but it was a little too late as Zambia bagged a big win at home. Speaking to Mmegi Sport from Zambia on Monday, Gaebolae said she was proud of her team’s performance and still optimistic that the team would turn the results around and advance to the
She said the decision killed her team’s confidence.
“We played very well for the first 14 minutes until they scored from an offside (position) and a clear one. But I am impressed with how the girls responded to that.
These are young girls who really need to go into the qualifiers with at least exposure to an international game, but anyway, we have to work hard for the second leg.”
“We still have a chance, they scored five, we can score more looking at how this girls performed in a stadium filled with Zambian supporters.
It was like a league game and that alone had an impact on us. Back home, we would need the support of the 12th man, they should come and rally behind our kids, Gaebolae said.
The team arrived back in the country on Monday evening and will remain in camp. The return leg will be played in two weeks’ time at a venue yet to be confirmed.