Tuesday Jul 27, 2021. 16:21
Shepolopolo’s Olympic race has ended after the ten-man Zambia lost 1-0 to Brazil in their final Group F match on Tuesday in Saitama.
Bruce Mwape’s side needed a win to stand a chance of finishing as one of the best third-placed sides to qualify for the quarterfinals of the twelve team, three group Olympic Women’s Football competition.
Despite just the 1 point from three games, a disciplined Shepolopolo head home with their heads held high especially after holding Brazil to the lone goal with ten players after shipping in fourteen goals in their opening two Group F games that they lost 10-3 to The Netherlands and drew 4-4 with China.
Shepolopolo started off on a promising note although they had goalkeeper Hazel Nali to thank for making three crucial stops in the opening 12 minutes.
But Zambia’s promising spell ended in the 13th minute when defender Lushomo Mweemba tackled Ludmila on the edge of the box who was in a goal scoring position.
But Shepolopolo’s woes didn’t end there.
Nali, who then had to deal with Ludmila’s subsequent momentum, came off the worse for wear with a suspected head injury.
She was replaced by N’gambo Musole whose first task in the 19th minute after the long pause was to pick the ball from the back of the net of the resultant free-kick that was superbly dispatched like a screaming bullet by Andressa.
From then on, Shepolopolo collectively produced a defensive performance that left Barbara Banda and Rachel Kindananji with little supply to mount anything formidable in attack.
Midfielder Grace Chanda did try with a couple of free kicks to get something out of the game for Zambia but they went inches off target.
Banda then made one last push in stoppage time from range but the effort didn’t bother her namesake in the Brazil goal.
Meanwhile, Zambia bowed out with probably their best performance despite failing to score for the first time in the competition.