Namibia 2 Zambia 0
THE Shepolopolo got their TN Mobile 9th Africa Women Championship (AWC) campaign on a disappointing note as they succumbed to a Group A defeat at the hands of an impressive Namibia at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
With the crowd behind the home team in the 10,000-capacity stadium, the Brave Gladiators unsettled the Zambians from the onset of the game with Rita Williams scrambling in a goal on the line for the opener in the fourth minute beating Hazel Nali.
Zambia could not match the fast pace of their Namibian counterparts, who looked dangerous each time they surged forward.
Coach Charles Bwale was forced to make an early substitution when Ethel Chama suffered a knock and was replaced by Anita Mulenga.
As Zambia were slowly rediscovering their rhythm, calamity struck when Thomalina Adams doubled the lead from a free kick to send his side to half time with a two-goal cushion.
The best chance of the Zambians came in the 36th minute when Helen Mubanga took on her markers, beating them on the flanks before squaring Kabange Mupopo, whose final touch missed target narrowly.
Four minutes to recess, Namibian goalkeeper Lydia Exais pulled the best save of the half, parrying out a Misozi Zulu goal bound shot from close range.
Mupopo, who was kept at bay by the Gladiators’ defensive linchpin Lina Katuta could only manage to hit the crossbar from a corner kick in the 40th minute.
The Shepolopolo resumed play a much improved side but they rarely threatened in front of the Namibian goal, save for a couple of long range efforts by Susan Banda that forced superb saves from shot stopper Exais.
On 77 minutes, Exais stretched her fullest to palm out a Banda curling shot from a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area.
Mupopo, who switched positions during the game, launched several onslaughts from the left flank but the Namibian defensive pair of captain Uerikondjera Kasoana and Lorraine Jossob ensured her crosses never got to Mubanga.
The Namibians held on to the lead to claim the maximum points on match day one.