Zambia: Easter felicitations to members of the football family. The Easter weekend always provides an opportunity to reflect not just on our Christian mission but on our football journey. On the football side of the business, we have had a busy weekend that saw us attend the North Western Province Annual General Meeting (AGM) and be part of the 2023 ABSA Cup semi-finals in Kitwe.
To top it all, the Copper Queens are in Seoul playing friendly matches with South Korea as part of preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
It was good to sit through the North Western Province FAZ AGM and take stock of the football agenda. We had a very enlightening discourse with the provincial minister Robert Lihefu whom we paid a courtesy call before he officiated at the AGM.
The North Western province case is such a perfect example of how much can be accomplished when the political and football leadership work together. With North Western Province having regular representation in the Super League and National Division One, things can only get better for the region. North Western Province stands as a true example of decentralization which FAZ has fully rolled out. After the North Western Province AGM, the stage is now set for the national AGM, which takes in a fortnight.
In Kitwe, we saw an explosive semi-final lineup that saw Forest Rangers and Muza book places in the final of the 2023 tournament. We cannot thank the Copperbelt and travelling fans enough for the support rendered to the tournament. We, however, had hoped for better attendance, especially for the Sunday fixtures.
We are also mindful that the absence of Copperbelt domiciled teams in the Sunday fixture may have partly led to the reduced numbers. For the final, we expect that we will have a football feast with the two teams riding on their different motivations to get to the grand stage. A big thank you to ABSA Bank for continuing to pour money into the game across all seasons.
Finally, the Copper Queens played the first of two international friendly matches against Korea on Friday and lost 5-2. The calibre of the opposition provided a World Cup level test for the Copper Queens. South Korea is ranked 17th in the world and is among the 32 qualified teams at the FIFA World Cup. We will not relent in giving the team high-level preparatory matches for the FIFA World Cup to ensure that they will be better prepared for the tournament.
We have no doubt that the team will be motivated to win the second match tomorrow against South Korea and wind up their campaign on a higher note. Aside from the disciplinary case that saw one player sent back home on the recommendation of the technical bench and team management, everything else has been smooth. Zambia is in Group C alongside Spain, Costa Rica and Japan.
The tournament runs from July 20-August 20 in Australia/New Zealand.