Copper Queens of Zambia head coach Bruce Mwape has made a bold claim that with the high standard preparations they have had coming to this 2023 FIFA Womens World Cup, they are ready to face any team.
Mwape was speaking during the match day minus one press conference ahead of their opening World Cup match in Group C against Japan at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand tomorrow morning (9 am).
Prior to this tournament, Zambia had a famous 3-2 win against the world’s number two Germany, and Mwape says they are ready for any team.
“We are ready like Barbra [Banda] said. It’s actually the team work that will help us achieve our goal otherwise we are ready. We have been preparing for this tournament for the past two months now and I feel the team is ready to play against any team in the tournament,” Mwape said.
At 23, Zambian top striker Barbra Banda is one of the youngest captains in this tourney and Copper Queens also have one of the youngest squads in the tournament. But Mwape is not bothered by the so-called lack of experience.
“Somehow maybe the age will give us an advantage. Playing old people, I think they will not withstand that pressure from the young ones but otherwise, experience also is important.
But the games that we have played, I think even our girls now have gained that experience despite being young.
They’ve been to the Africa Cup [Women’s Africa Cup of Nations], they’ve been to the Olympics. So, for me, I think they also have the experience required to play in this type of competition.”
Zambia, who also had a good showing at the Olympic Games in Japan two years ago, have also been dealt a huge blow ahead of the opener after losing influential attacker and former captain Grace Chanda due to an illness. Team Doctor Faith Chibeza confirms Chanda’s withdrawal and also Hazel Naliwho suffered an ACL injury.
“We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game it’s going to be challenging. Commenting on the health of the players, all of them are well actually except two that are unwell. The first one is one that has already come to public knowledge that Hazel Natasha Nali had an ACL injury, fortunately, the government came in and they have arranged for her surgery here in Auckland, New Zealand and she’s scheduled next week to have her operation.
Then she will go on to rehab.
The second one is Grace Chanda who has taken ill and unfortunately, her illness has taken her out of the tournament. So, we have done everything that we can to help her. She’s receiving all the attention and the help that she needs. She will get well as time goes by. It’s just that she won’t be able to participate in the tournament.”
[ SABC Sport]