Women’s football promising

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
AFTER the She-polopolo butchered Equatorial Guinea 5-0, many Zambians thought they were close to a semi-final berth.
They gave the nation a lot of hope, more so that the mouth-watering win came hours after the Chipolopolo had lost to Mozambique in Maputo and bowed out of contention for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The country was looking at causing an upset against defending champions Nigeria and rivals Banyana Banyana of South Africa.
But instead the She-polopolo crumbled 4-0 to Nigeria and drew 1-1 with South Africa to finish third in Group B with four points.
Leaders South Africa, who finished with seven points, and Nigeria, on six points, qualified for the semi-finals.
Equatorial Guinea, the 2008 and 2012 champions, lost all their three matches.
The She-polopolo did the country proud despite missing out on the semi-finals.
The girls are extremely talented and the future of women’s football and the She-polopolo is bright.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) should take the issue of establishing a national women’s league with the seriousness it deserves.
The men’s Premier League is competitive while the Super Division, which has 20 teams, is among the best on the continent.
With a national league, women football is headed for higher heights.
At the moment we should not expect our girls to punch above their weight.
Mary Mwakapila, Rachael Kundananji, Hazel Nali, Ireen Lungu and Grace Chanda among others are talented but they need to be kept busy every weekend for them to further gain the much needed game time.
Kundananji scored three of Zambia’s six goals at the Africa Cup of Nations and this shows that with a structured league in place, she could be groomed into a quality goal-poacher.
There is no need to be disappointed with the first-round exit at the Ghana finals because the girls exhibited sheer determination.
With a competitive league, the She-polopolo could make it for the semi-finals or lift the trophy at the 2020 Africa Cup of Nations.
The She-polopolo showed the world that they could compete with the best teams on the continent.
The Cameroonian, South African and Nigerian players showed their skill because they have structured leagues in their respective countries.
As if that is not enough, a number of Nigerian players are plying their trade abroad.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria’s line-up is all foreign-based. That is the level Zambia should aim at if the She-polopolo are to conquer Africa.
This can be achieved with a well-structured league as well as giving the clubs and national teams the training and exposure they deserve.
Despite being amateurs, Zambian players are as good as other teams on the continent.
Sponsors, too, should come on board to help sustain the women’s league. Both the league and national team are now a brand worth buying into.
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