AN out-of-sorts Shepolopolo was yesterday beaten 4-2 at home by Tanzania in a 2015 All-Africa Games qualifier and created themselves a huge mountain to overcome in the country of the Kilimanjaro.
Coming weeks after seeing all the men’s national teams, starting from senior and down to the Under-17 knocked out of all major competitions, this defeat just rubbed salt into injury.
Zambia had actually started brightly, creating several chances much to the chagrin of the fans who kept calling for at least a goal.
It was not to come until the 44th minute when Misozi Zulu wiped the fans’ tears with a calmly taken goal after Tanzania goalie Fatuma Jawadu strayed out of her line to stop advancing Grace Chanda and just saw the ball fall graciously for Zulu to give Zambia a 1-0 half-time lead.
Tanzania came off the break with a simple strategy, using long balls on the wings and shooting on sight and two minutes after restart benefited from a long ball floated into the box and with hesitant defending and a static Nali allowed Asha Rashid to level.
Tanzania did all the running after that and it was no shock that a second goal came on 58 minutes through Mwanathamisi Shurua in the most odd fashions as the ball Nali spilled from an Etoe Mlenzi shot just bumped her and rolled in off the post.
Zambia was reeling after that and the visitors added one more through Shelda Mufuru but it was cancelled for off side.
This was a wake-up call as Zambia pushed forward and in the 67th minute Zulu dragged her shot narrowly wide but made no mistake in the 69th minute when Grace Chanda came in front of the goal and easily slotted in the equaliser.
But that was about all Zambia could offer as Tanzania put up a show and got a third goal in the 76th minute with a screamer from Mlenzi which caught Nali napping to quieten the small crowd. And if there was any hope of a fight back, it was ended in the 89th minute when Sophia Mwisendi tapped in another one after the ball from Nali’s brave save fell in her path for a 4-2 lead.
As defeat slowly sunk in on the bench and the crowd, talk of the team’s lack of camping and fitness levels came up as the girls looked visibly worn- out in the second half as the fitter Tanzanians bullied them throughout the match.
The return leg will be played in a fortnight’s time with the victor over the two legs qualifying to the All-Africa Games (AAG) in Congo Brazzaville.