Zambia: Buffaloes Rampage Towards Cosafa Glory

TURA Magic Ladies' opponents Green Buffaloes of Zambia are reportedly looking beyond the Cosafa qualifier, towards the CAF Women's Champions League finals.

The Lusaka-based army team will be among the favourites in the competition having been seeded in Group B, where they will take on Black Rhinos Queens of Zimbabwe and Tura Magic of Namibia, with the top two in the pool advancing to the semi-finals.

The qualifier takes place in South Africa from 26 August to 4 September.

Assistant coach Carol Kanyemba insists the rampaging Buffaloes have their sights firmly set on a trip to Cairo when they contest the qualifying tournament.

The club have some recognisable names, such as defenders Lushomo Mweemba, Martha Tembo and Anita Mulenga, and midfielders Ireen Lungu and Agness Musase, who were all part of the Zambia side that performed so well last month at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

They have also had national team stalwart Rachael Nachura training with the side under head coach Charles Haalubono.

Kanyemba is confident they will be successful, though she acknowledges the tough task ahead of them.

"We are definitely going to Cairo! We want to be the first ones to represent Zambia at the CAF Women's Champions League," she says.

"The draw is good, but the challenge is there. Because the greatest challenge is having to face a team you have not met before. We don't know what they are coming up with.

"In this competition, every team is strong in its own way because the first games against a new team are always scary. We will put in maximum effort and try our best to get out of the group. We have our homework to do; we know a few of the players [in the opponents' teams]."

It is considered to be an advantage to be in a three-team group, with two to advance to the semi-finals, though Kanyemba knows that one off-day and it could be an early exit.

"I can't say there is an advantage because of the challenge [they face]. Only one team will not advance, and no one wants to be that team. There will be a lot of hard work in our group."

She says re-integrating the players who were at the Olympics is a key focus, given they have been with the national team for some time.

"The Olympics brought a lot of confidence in the team. We believe in them [the players] because of the wonderful performance they put up. We hope they come back healthy to rejoin the team because they have been away for a while.

"Systems are different from the club and the national team, so they have to blend in again with our system. The little time we have, we need to work on our co-ordination. But the morale is high, and the confidence levels are high also."

The Football Association of Zambia recently introduced a national women's league, rather than a provincial competition that had been played previously.

Kanyemba says this will benefit the women's game in the country, including the Green Buffaloes.

"Women's football in Zambia is really improving. Just recently they introduced the national women's league, which has brought in a lot of competition. It is of the highest level and many teams are getting the best out of it.

"Every team and every player is working hard to be the champions of the inaugural national league."

The TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions League is set for Cairo, Egypt, later this year. - Cosafa

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