Copper Queens claw back from the brink to reach olympic qualifiers final

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THE  Zambian Copper Queens staged a dramatic late comeback against Ghana to reach the final stage of the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers yesterday in Ndola. 

Carrying a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg in Accra Ghana, Zambia started strong, with captain Barbara Banda putting them ahead in the 11th minute.

However, Ghana responded quickly, equalizing through Gifty Assifuah just ten minutes later.

The second half saw Ghana take the initiative, grabbing the lead through Doris Boaduwaa in the 55th minute. 

Just when it seemed hope was fading for the Copper Queens, veteran striker Kabange Mupopo equalized in the 61st minute, offering a lifeline.

However, Ghana wouldn’t go down without a fight, with their coach Nora Hauptle’ words of giving Zambia a difficult time lingering in the Black Queen’s minds, they restored their lead three minutes later through Bugre Azumah.

While time was also running its own race, with all indications pointing to extra time, the drama unfolded – Ghana’s Jennifer Cudjoe was sent off in the final minute of stoppage time for a second yellow card, handing Zambia a free-kick in a dangerous position. 

Seizing the opportunity, Barbara Banda stepped up and unleashed a rocket that beat the Ghanaian wall and nestled into the net.

The Levy Mwanawasa Stadium erupted in jubilation as the final whistle blew, securing a 3-3 draw and a 4-3 aggregate victory for Zambia.

Despite Ghana’s dominance throughout both legs, the Copper Queens displayed remarkable resilience and fighting spirit to secure their place in the final round.

Next up for the Copper Queens is a clash against Morocco, who defeated Tunisia to advance. 

By Moses Makwaya

Kalemba February 29, 2024

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