Sunday Jul 18, 2021. 09:42
Dutch Lioness’s coach Sarina Wiegman says the disparity on the FIFA Women’s Rankings with Shepolopolo Zambia is not a factor heading into their July 21 Olympic Group F clash in Rifu.
The 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup runners-up are fourth on the FIFA Rankings while Shepolopolo are a 104th heading into Wednesday’s opening game.
Shepolopolo are Africa’s sole representatives in Tokyo after edging out favourites Cameroon to the continent’s ticket in March,2020 and the latter later failed to qualify via an Africa Versus South America playoff against Chile.
“I am not blind to the World ranking. They (Zambia) have qualified on behalf of Africa while countries such as Cameroon and South Africa have not,” the 2020 and 2017 FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year told Voetbalzone.
Wednesday’s match (Kickoff 13h00 CAT) will mark the Zambia Women’s teams Olympic debut and also their first-ever senior meeting against European opposition.
But this will be Shepolopolo’s second against a non-African opponent since November 28, 2020 when they beat Chile 2-1 in a friendly away in Santiago.
Meanwhile, Holland have been in Japan for the last fortnight since arriving in Kamogawa on July 8.
Holland then played a closed-door friendly game on July 14 against fellow Olympic finalists Canada that finished 3-3 in a match the Dutch rallied from three-one to earn the draw.
The warm-up came after their July 3 home friendly in Zwolle against South Africa was cancelled due to Covid-19 cases in the Banyana Banyana camp.
Ironically, Holland’s friendly against Canada was played just 24 hours after Shepolopolo landed in Japan from Zambia.
The Olympics will be Wiegman’s last assignment as Dutch coach after seven years in charge whose other highlight apart from their FIFA silver medal was leading them to 2017 UEFA Euro Women’s glory.
She will leave the post after The Games to take up the England job.