NATIONAL women’s team coach Bruce Mwape says anything less than a win will mean defeat for the Copper Queens in today’s opening encounter of the 2022 Hollywood bets COSAFA Women’s Championship fixture against rivals Namibia at Wolfon stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

The Copper Queens begin their quest for a maiden COSAFA title having put up a splendid performance at the just ended women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) were they finished as bronze medallists’ and qualified for the FIFA World Cup to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand next year.

Coach Mwape said time has come for the team to challenge for the COSAFA title.

“Well the team is ready for the crucial and must win fixture against Namibia. The preparations have been smooth and our target this year is to challenge for the title. Anything less than a win will mean defeat to us and our target is to win the opening fixture to have a clear road map and build confidence in the team,” Mwape said.

He said the team is aware of the expectations from the public and will do everything possible to deliver positive results.

Women’s football has been on the rise in the last four years and expectations from the general public have continued to grow due to the good performances posted by the team.

With the availability of some foreign based players, soccer fans are eager to see the Copper Queens win its maiden COSAFA title even as they prepare for the World Cup.

Among the available foreign based players are captain of the side Barbra Banda, Misozi Zulu, Natasha Witika and Margret Belemu while goal keeper Hazel Nali, striker Grace Chanda, Rachael Nachula and Rachael Kundananji have club commitments.

And Skipper Barbra Banda said the team will do everything possible to win the title as part of gauging their readiness for the upcoming World Cup.

“The main target is to win our maiden COSAFA title looking at the morale in camp is high. The performance of the team at the WAFCON should motivate us to go for the title. Everyone is in good shape and I feel this is our time to win the COSAFA championship,” she said.

Banda said her return to the COSAFA team means a lot to her having not featured at the WAFCON tournament earlier in July this year.

“Most of the players in the team have not had enough rest because from the WAFCON, they went straight to play the COSAFA Champions league, so the fitness levels are okay and we are using this tournament as preparation for the World Cup next year and we are not taking it lightly,” said Banda.

On the pitch, coach Mwape is likely to start Catherine Musonda in between the sticks while Lushomo Mweemba, Martha Tembo, Margret Belemu and Agness Musesa will complete the back four.

In Midfield, Ireen Lungu and Evarine Katongo will combine to provide cover to the back four and ensure a smooth transition and build-up from the back while Avail Chitundu, Xiomara Mapepa, Ochumba Oseke and Skipper Barbra are expected to lead the attack upfront.

Other impact players available for selection include Misozi Zulu, Mary Wilombe, Natasha Nanyangwe, Natasha Witika, Maweta Chilenga, Esther Siamfuko and Eneless Phiri among others.