Wednesday Jul 21, 2021. 16:20
Shepolopolo Zambia captain Barbara Banda showed Dutch courage on Wednesday when she scored a hat-trick to cushion the pain of a 10-3 loss to The Netherlands in their opening Group F match at the Olympics in Japan.
It was a forgettable result for Olympic debutants Shepolopolo who suffered a fiery initiation at the hands of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup runners up and 2017 European champions.
The Dutch are also Shepolopolo’s first-ever European opponents at senior level.
On a more personal note, Banda made history as the first Zambian female player to score at the Olympics.
Banda’s hat-trick also saw her equal Chipolopolo legend Kalusha Bwalya’s Olympic record he made at Seoul 1988 when he struck three times in a 4-0 group stage victory over Italy.
But back to today’s events across the Sea of Japan in Miyagi Stadium Rifu, the Dutch cruised to a six-one halftime lead that was sparked by Vivianne Miedema’s first half hat-trick in the 9th 15th and 38th minutes.
Miedema’s first goal came from a howler by goalkeeper Hazel Nali when the Dutch forward pounced on a loose ball after the Shepolopolo number one’s ambitious attempt to clear the ball with her head went horribly wrong.
Nali redeemed herself two minutes later to deny Shanice van de Sanden when she bravely collected the ball off her swift wingers feet in the first of many important saves she made but her exploits were not enough to stop the Orange deluge.
Lieke Martens was on target in the 14th and 38th minute while Van de Sanden turned from provider for her compatriots to score with a superb volley in the 45th minute.
Despite the first half one-way traffic, Zambia breached the Dutch in that period when Banda opened her Olympic account in the 19th minute after some good work by Esther Siamfuko.
She nearly added a second in the 41st minute but sent her shot inches wide after Grace Chanda placed the ball into her path.
Miedema scored her fourth of the day in the 59th minute to take home the ball while Jamie Roord, Lineth Beerensteyn, Victoria Pelova struck in the 64th 75th and 80th minutes respectively to seal an emphatic victory for The Dutch.
But Banda put some respectability on the score line with a sublime finish from an acute angle on the near post in the 82nd minute and added her final goal a minute later with a break-through run inside the box.
The Netherlands lead Group F thanks to their very healthy goal difference ahead of Brazil who beat China 5-0 in the early kickoff at Miyagi.
Zambia and China meet this Saturday in a Group F basement clash seeking their first points at the Olympics.