U-17 girls drop from WC qualifiers

ZAMBIA has pulled out of the Jordan 2016 Under-17 Women World Cup qualifiers, giving regional rivals South Africa free passage to the second round.

In an interview in Lusaka yesterday, Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) communications manager Nkweto Tembwe confirmed the development and said they have already written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Tembwe said Zambia was scheduled to play South Africa on January 17 but had to pull out because ‘‘we are trying to reorganise and streamline the selection process’.

“We have pulled out of the competition. This is due to technical and organisational reasons. We are trying to reorganise and streamline how the selection process is done. The Under-17 is the entry point and gives it attention. But we will still maintain the U-20, U-23 and senior team,” he said.

Zambia National Soccer Fans Association (ZNSFA) chairman Musonda Mwaume described the pulling out of the U-17 as sad.

“This is a sad development in football. I wish the girls could have been given the same chance like the Chipolopolo to fight for qualification. I believe the selection process could have been done much earlier. I am sure will demotivate to the girls,” he said.

Zambia was expected to begin the chase for a second debut at the U-17 World Cup with a first round encounter against rivals South Africa next month.

In November 2013, the Shepolopolo made history when they beat South Africa 3-1 in the final round to book a place at the Costa Rica World Cup on a 6-4 aggregate score. Then Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili gave the players K10,000 each as a bonus for qualifying for the World Cup for the first time.

The Zambian team that had the likes of goalkeeper Hazel Nali, midfielder Ireen Lungu, strikers Barbara Banda and Grace Chanda recorded two losses and a win at the tournament.

Zambia lost 2-0 to Italy and suffered a 4-0 humiliation to Venezuela before beating hosts Costa Rica 2-1.