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Zebras fail to dodge Copper Bullets

KABELO BORANABI
Zambia has beaten Botswana national teams in the last five months. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
A Southern African derby always triggers the adrenaline rush in the football fans.

For the local fans a win against South Africa tastes sweetest but another enemy has emerged in the far north. 

The rivalry has proved to be lopsided, as Zambia has battered the local national soccer sides in the last five months; winning every contest, except one that ended deadlocked. 

It all began with a COSAFA Senior Challenge final back in June. A Mogomotsi ‘Teenage’ Mpote led Zebras were downed by a single goal, denying the local team a chance to lift the cup for the first time in history.

The Zebras had a chance to redeem themselves in the CHAN 2020 qualifiers, but once again fell prey to Chipolopolo with a 3-2 aggregate score over two legs. The pair had played to a goalless draw at the Francistown Sports Complex before the Zebras lost 3-2 away.

The two nations met once again on Tuesday August 6, 2019. This time it was in the group stage of the COSAFA Senior Women Challenge. A Mares’ Team B side managed to hold Shepolopolo to controversial 0-0 draw to set up another meeting in the semifinals.

Two days later, Shepolopolo produced a dominant display and

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denied the Mares a historic COSAFA Cup final appearance with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat. 

To add salt to injury, Zambia beat Botswana in the just-ended COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship in Mauritius.  The Zambians beat the home girls 6-0 in the third place playoff as the girls returned home empty-handed despite a spirited performance at the tournament.

 On Wednesday, the senior team, the Mares carried the nation’s hopes in the search of vengeance against the copper-rich nation. The pair met in the first leg of the 2020 Olympic qualifiers third round in Zambia. Hopes were high from the local fans as the Mares eliminated Banyana Banyana in the competition, as the Zambians were deemed a weaker opposition.

However, the Mares as those who came before them this year, fell prey to the Zambians with 1-0 loss thanks to Mary Makwapila’s strike.

The Mares will, however, carry the nation’s last hopes in the second leg of the tie to be played October 8 at the Francistown Sports Complex.

Banking on a good home ground record, the local fans would be hoping that the Zebras would finally melt the copper this year.



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