Head coach Charles Haluboono was left to rue a series of mistakes in Lusaka as his Zambia U20 women's side bowed 2-0 to South Africa on Saturday.
The Zambians were smarting from an impressive outing at 2019 Cosafa U20 Women's Cup in South Africa, where they finished as runners-up behind champions Tanzania in Port Elizabeth.
The Shepolopolo were seeking a fine start in the African U20 Women's World Cup qualifiers but were condemned by first-half strikes from Chelsea Daniels and Thubelihle Shamase.
The hosts failed to bounce back in the second half despite spite the concerted efforts made at Nkoloma Stadium and the coach attributed their loss to his side's lack of experience and the poor pitch.
"We've lost because we made mistakes in our defence and they capitalised on those mistakes and punished us," Haluboono told media.
"We played a very good team and full of experience as well. We just have to improve on those important positions of the team.
"We always have four players joining but today that was not there and we easily lost the ball. This was the system we've been using that has yielded result.
"Unfortunately, we tried to move up on some occasions to close spaces but maybe because the pitch was slippery, we could not.
"When we conceded the first goal, I saw a lot of mistakes and I spoke to the girls to calm down.
"That was why we made an early substitution because some of the players were just playing an international match for the first time. We still have the second leg to play, so, there is a chance."
Haluboono will focus on putting forward a more formidable side ahead of the second leg tie against Besetsana in South Africa.
Winners of two-legged preliminary round encounter will progress to the next round to face Botswana or Namibia in yet another Cosafa regional duel.