After Nigeria’s 0-0 draw with Olympic champions, Canada in Africa’s first match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Zambia will become the second African side to grace the field on Saturday against 2011 World Champions, Japan.
Ever-present Nigeria got a point off the Olympic champions in Melbourne, the Super Falcons still have a number of top performers in their ranks who have not tasted action and are eager to do the business.
Midfielders Christy Ucheibe and Deborah Abiodun were massive in the early afternoon at the Rectangular, but suspended regulars Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatu Ayinde are now available for selection, and the versatile Jennifer Echegini and strong forward Desire Oparanozie are also keen to get in on the beat.
It will be the turn of WAFCON 2022 bronze medalist on Saturday.
A historic day beckons for fans of the Zambia women’s national team as FIFA’s 77th-ranked nation take part in their first-ever Women’s World Cup (WWC).
The Zambians are clearly unfancied to progress as the lowest-ranked side at the tournament, though the fact they have more than 1000 km fewer to travel than any other team in Group C could provide a springboard to surprise.
Despite their scoring prowess, it is Zambia’s leaky defence that has been cited in many quarters as being their most likely downfall.
Perhaps conceding eight times across their three pre-tournament friendlies goes some way to explain that consensus, yet the fact they also scored eight goals in those friendlies against top-22 ranked Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and Germany – sensationally beating Germany in the process – may well keep #11-ranked Japan on their toes.
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