Shepolopolo Zambia’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying hopes suffered a minor setback on Thursday following a 3-2 away loss to Cameroon in the final stage, first leg match at Stade Omnisport Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé.
Zambia must now beat the 2019 FIFA Women’s Cup finalists at home on March 10 at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka to secure their debut Olympic Games qualification.
Shepolopolo were equal to the task on the road on Thursday and took a deserved lead in the 35th minute through Grace Chanda who scored her first of two on the day.
Chanda collected a long pass from deep in midfield delivered by captain Barbara Banda before beating Cameroon goalkeeper Ange Bawou from a tight angle just inside the area.
But Shepolopolo’s lead lasted just four minutes when Araja Nchout crashed in the ball from the edge of the area capitalizing on an out-of-position Zambia goalkeeper Hazel Nali to see the two sides’ goal 1-1 into the break.
Gabrielle Onguene then put Cameroon in the lead for the first time in the match in the72nd minute after see-saw start to the second period.
Zambia’s responded just four minutes later through Chanda who restored parity to complete her brace.
However, Onguene had the final say in the 89th minute again punishing Nali for poor positioning again to seal the victory and hand Shepolopolo their first loss in the qualifiers.
Winner this Tuesday in Zambia heads to the Tokyo finals but the loser will have to play South American qualifiers runners-up, Chile, in a playoff for that golden ticket to Japan.k
By Kalumiana Kalumiana
FARPost’s Zambia Correspondent