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Banyana given wake-up call by Zambia's Copper Queens ahead of AWCON qualifier

Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis

FILE - Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Feb 13, 2022

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Cape Town — Banyana Banyana were given a wake-up call by Zambia's Copper Queens who ran out 3-0 winners in an international friendly at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka on Saturday afternoon.

All the goals were scored in the first half after an inspiring performance by Zambia’s captain Barbra Banda who was playing for the national women's team for the first time since her exceptional performance at last year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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Both teams used the match to prepare for the upcoming 2022 Morocco Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) two-leg qualifiers. Zambia play Namibia at home on Wednesday, and South Africa host Algeria on Friday in Johannesburg.

Banda opened the scoring in the sixth minute and added another just before the halftime break. In between, striker Avell Chitundu scored a goal just past the half-hour mark.

There was very little challenge coming from a rather subdued South African line-up in the first half.

In the second half, Zambia made several changes. The fresh legs did not help the home team regain the ascendency. The South African showed some improvement but came away without reward at the end.

South Africa's coach Desiree Ellis said her team was out of sorts on the day.

"I think we didn't pitch today," said Ellis. "We said that they are going to find Barbra [Banda] for this match, and it happened that way. She is a game-changer.

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"We did not cover up for each other, and we did not cope well with the long ball. Sometimes when you play, you have one department not working, but in this match, all our departments were not working.

"We had a much better second half, but it was really not good enough. We were very poor today.

"It was good playing this match to see what we need to do going forward what we still need to work on. This match helped us a lot to see what we can take forward and areas we need to improve on."

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Copper Queens mentor Bruce Mwape, who was named Best Women's national coach in Africa for 2021, was pleased with the way his side was firing on all cylinders in the opening half.

"We did play well in the first half," said Mwape. "After bringing on the second-half subs, we struggled, especially up front, although the defence was solid.

"South Africa was good tactically and able to hold ball possession for some time. This is an area we are lacking and hope to improve on."

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South Africa will host Algeria at the Orlando Stadium on Friday and then play the return leg in Algiers five days later.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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