National women’s soccer team coach Beauty Mwamba has said the low levels of fitness among central defenders is a source of worry for the technical bench.

Mwamba said the technical bench summoned four central defenders to replace two others who were committed elsewhere and could not report for duty but discovered later that the replacements were not fit enough.

She said her team would work towards ensuring the players are fit to play Botswana in just four days’ time.

“I can say the team is shaping up well though we have some concerns with regard to the defence, more especially central defenders. As you know, two players are not with us due to other commitments. So, we are trying to replace them and the players that we called, there is a difference in terms of fitness. So, what we are trying to do is at least help them catch up with fitness. But they are coming up very well. We only hope that they will catch up by the time we will be playing. These are Nanita Mulenga and Agness Musesa…they’re not with us due to other commitments. Their replacements are Emelda Musonda and Milika Limwanya, then there is also Fikile Nkhosa from Red Arrows and Grace Nanyiza actually. There is that difference in terms of fitness,” Mwamba said.

She further said she expects a tough encounter when the Copper queens clash with the Zebras of Botswana.

“The first game at home will be a tough one. Botswana is a good side and them having eliminated South Africa means a lot and we know that they have been preparing from the time we played at COSAFA. We know that they did not have most of the senior players when we played at COSAFA. They went to Slovakia for their preparations. So, they have been preparing for some time so we expect a tough match. But of course, we want to overcome,” said Mwamba.