While South Africa are the favourites to clinch the 2019 Cosafa Women’s Championship on home soil, Zambia will also be contenders and might be the side best placed to rain on Banyana Bayana’s parade in Port Elizabeth.
Despite falling at the first hurdle during the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, the Shepolopolo won many admirers for their 5-0 evisceration of previous winners Equatorial Guinea in Cape Coast.
While two-goal Racheal Kundananji was the heroine of that performance, youngster Grace Chanda also won many plaudits after getting the ball rolling with a seventh-minute opener.
Chanda, like the rest of her teammates, will have learned a lot from their bruising 4-0 defeat by Nigeria in their second group game, but they responded to hold South Africa to a 1-1 draw in their final match.
It wasn’t enough to reach the knockouts, but it should give Zambia confidence as they look to win a maiden Cosafa Women’s Championship.
Chanda, who will wear No. 10 at the tournament, will be one of Shepolopolo’s key stars if they’re to beat their previous best of a semi-final finish, and her composure in possession will surely be one of Zambia’s key assets in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Dribbling, agility and technique are all also assets of the youngster, while Chanda is also a threat from set-pieces, as she demonstrated against Equatorial Guinea.
Particularly without Kundananji, Chanda will be charged with offering some creativity to the Southern Africans, and getting the best out of the talented forwards around her.
Still only 22, Chanda made headlines in 2018 when she reportedly scored an outrageous 86 goals in 26 matches, ending the year—comfortably—as the top scorer for the ZESCO United girls’ team, and being honoured at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony.
Since then, she’s spent time on loan at Red Arrows, but the goals haven’t dried up.
In May, she struck a hat-trick as her new side bounced back from a goal down to defeat Green Eagles 4-1 away, while Chanda also scored the only goal of the game as her header was enough to down Yasa Queens.
Earlier this month, she struck four times as Pamalat were demolished 6-0 at home, and it’s clear that Chanda is heading into the Cosafa Cup in top form.