Striker Barbra Banda scored twice as Zambia claimed a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Namibia in their 2022 HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship Group B opener at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Thursday.
Banda is back in the Copper Queens’ squad and showed all her clinical finishing ability with a brace of goals and a strong all-round performance.
Zambia certainly did not have it their own way, but have made a strong start to the competition as they seek to win the regional crown for the first time in their history.
Earlier, Boitumelo Rabale scored a hat-trick as Lesotho eased past Eswatini with a 3-0 victory in their pool opener to lay down a marker of their potential.
The Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies star was superb as she netted her first via a free-kick, headed home the second from close-range and then provided a neat finish to complete her hattrick.
It is Lesotho’s first win at the competition in five games, since they beat Namibia 2-1 in 2017.
Defending champions Tanzania will begin their campaign when they take on Comoros in Group C at the Madibaz Stadium (kick-off 12h00 CAT) on Friday.
The Twiga Stars defeated Malawi in the decider last campaign, and are back to defend their crown after becoming the first guest nation to win the coveted trophy.
Comoros hope to show their improvement but have a tough start in what is their third appearance at the finals after group stage exits in 2019 and 2020.
Malawi’s Scorchers will hope to turn silver into gold this season and begin their championship with a tough clash against 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinalists Botswana (15h30 CAT) at the same venue.
It is a heavyweight battle that will be crucial to both sides in their bid to reach the next stage as only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up qualify for the semifinals.
Lesotho 3 (Rabale 7’, 33’, 88’) Eswatini 0
Zambia 2 (B. Banda 4’, 71’) Namibia 0
12h00 (10h00 GMT) – Tanzania vs Comoros – Madibaz Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT) – Botswana vs Malawi – Madibaz Stadium
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