Jacobs sends warning to Copper Queens
• By Michael Uugwanga
BRAVE Gladiators coach Woody Jacobs has sent a strong warning to Zambia’s Copper Queens that his team will be up for the challenge when the two countries meet in a two-legged qualifier tie of the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Brave Gladiators will go to Zambia and hope to upset the host nation in front of their supporters, just like what they did to the 2021 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s champion, Tanzania over two legs last year.
The return leg is set for Dobsonville, South Africa on February 22, since the country does not have a stadium to host international matches.
The winner of the two-legged tie between Namibia and Zambia will qualify for AFCON slated for July 2 to 23 in Morocco.
The Brave Gladiators will be looking at qualifying to their first AFCON, having previously hosted the tournament in 2014 only to be knocked out in the preliminary stage by eventual winners and current holders Nigeria’s Super Falcons.
Speaking to Confidente this week, Jacobs is confident that his team can repeat the same feat against Zambia as it did against Tanzania.
He also said that the Brave Gladiators will play a friendly match against South Africa’s top female team and current winner of the newly inaugurated Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women Champions League, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies.
“One thing I can tell you is that there is a strong performance and hard work the girls are putting in at the training, therefore it is going to be a difficult situation for selection, which is going to be difficult because they have put me in a dilemma … but a decision will have to be made, before I select the final 25-woman squad for the clash against Zambia.
“In Zambia we need to defend well and to close them down quickly because they are dangerous when they start playing, and of course we will need to go into those areas that we can hurt them,” said Jacobs.
One key player that will be missed against Zambia is Lovisa Mulunga currently in the US with studies, which means that Jacobs will need to reshuffle his back line, which could see either Lydiana Nanumus and Ndapewa Katuta drafted in the central defence with captain Emma Naris in the absence of Mulunga.
“You see, I knew it from day one when I joined the team that they are good bunch of players and they needed something and that is to push them higher,” said Jacobs.
Meanwhile, Zambian coach Bruce Mwape has confidently stated that his side will not come under pressure against the visitors.
“The team has gained experience from its three consecutive AFCON appearances. We will not be under pressure even though we have some new players, however the experienced players will help the new players,” said Mwape.