Wednesday Jul 28, 2021. 16:00
Striker Rachel Kundananji says Shepolopolo Zambia have set an ambitious continental target following hard lessons learnt from their World senior tournament debut at the Olympics.
Zambia made their maiden intercontinental competitive appearance in Japan where they have just made a group stage exit with a draw and two defeats at the ongoing Olympics Women’s Football event.
Shepolopolo were Africa’s sole Olympic representatives after going through the qualifiers with six wins, a draw and one defeat.
Their only defeat came in the final qualifying round against favourites Cameroon who beat them 3-2 that they reversed with a 2-1 home victory to finish 4-4 on aggregate to qualify on away goals rule.
“We just want to go to the AFCON and come back with the Cup. We have to show them that we are the best, that is why we are here in Japan,” Kundananji said.
Bruce Mwape’s side was in a tough Group F that included two-time silver medalist Brazil who beat them 1-0 in their final game on July 27 after drawing 4-2 with China on July 24.
Zambia began their Olympics campaign with a humbling 10-3 loss to Europe champions and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up The Netherlands.
“It doesn’t matter if we lost 10-3, it doesn’t matter if we drew 4-4 or lost 1-0, what matters is we are not losers,we came here as champions,”Kundananji said.
“I believe we didn’t lose these games because we have now gained experience playing against experienced teams that have played in the biggest World and Olympic competitions.
“This was also our first time to play against some of the biggest teams in the World. Before this, we had only played against African teams.”
Shepolopolo return to competitive action this October when they visit Malawi in a 2022 Women’s AFCON first round, first leg qualifier.
The winner will advance to the second round to play victor of the Tanzania versus Namibia fixture for a place at the 2022 Women’s AFCON finals in Morocco.
Zambia are seeking their second successive AFCON appearance after making a group stage exit at Ghana 2018 where they drew 1-1 with South Africa, lost 4-0 to Nigeria and beat Equatorial Guinea 5-0.
Mwape’s side finished third in Group B on 4 points that saw South Africa and Nigeria progress to the semifinals on 7 and 6 points respectively.