Zambian Fairy Tale Comes To An End

Brazil 1-0 Zambia

By Kris Goman

Pictured above: Lushomo Mweemba (3) is sent off by referee Yoshimi Yamashita. Photo: Getty Images

This is a do-or-die match for Zambia who will go out of the tournament if they lose and Brazil are probably safe regardless of the result. It’s all on Zambia tonight.

As it turns out, Brazil won 1-0 in a rather unconvincing affair. It was a game marked more by injuries than any football brilliance. It was brutal with two players stretchered off and others being able to limp off under their own steam. This didn’t feel like the USA v Australia game where both teams were desperately trying not to score.

Rather, neither team could break the other’s defence despite the strong expectation of an easy Brazil victory. The only goal was from a free kick seconds after the replacement goalkeeper took the field with little warm up.

Zambia have been the surprise package of the tournament. They haven’t won a game but scored at least three goals in each of their previous two matches. Barbra Banda has emerged as the breakout star being a relative unknown playing professionally in China. In this match, although she made some good runs, she was unable to unleash the magic and score.

Zambia attacked early with Banda sending a cross through the box but it’s immediately cleared to the other end and Brazil get a free kick. The free kick is saved by the keeper, Hazel Nali, resplendent in a bright pink keeper’s kit with matching pink highlights on her hair.

Banda gets away down the centre of the field and although the defence catches her, she twists away to get a shot off that’s saved in a leap to the right. The Brazilian keeper, Barbara, has words for her defence. It feels like Banda can’t be stopped but that’s her only on-target shot of the night. Rachael Kundananji takes a shot from outside the box but the keeper picks it up with little effort.

It’s end to end and Brazil are straight back down into their box for another attack that amounts to nothing. Jucinara runs down the left and the cross to Marta is defended well.

Formiga sends ball over the top to Ludmilla but the keeper, Nali, is straight out and kicks it away taking out Ludmilla in the process. There’s a stop in play while they are both attended to by the trainers. VAR is examining the tackle by Lushomo Mweemba just outside the area immediately before Nali arrived so it won’t be a penalty but Mweemba gets a red card and is sent off in a pretty surprising move. She strolls off shrugging her shoulders in disbelief still.

The keeper is still down and the substitute custodian, Ngambo Musole, is warming up. The stretcher is out now and Nali’s going on it. Musole, the replacement keeper, comes on as Nali is stretchered off. There’s a tactical change to replace a forward with a defender and Vast Phiri is on as well with Avell Chitundu coming off.

Brazil get a free kick as a result. Andressa takes it and puts it over the wall and straight into the back of the net. 1-0 Brazil in a bizarre start to the match.

Above: Brazil celebrate Andressa’s (21) goal. Photo: Getty Images.

Brazil attack again and Beatriz looks to be offside but the flag stays down until a similar tackle happens at the top of the box to what happened before and then the flag goes up. You’ve got to wonder about the reasoning when that could just be avoided by flagging offside when it happens.

Banda follows a long ball up to the right of the box and gets a corner. There’s a big clash of heads during the corner between Beatriz and Rachael Kundananji for Zambia. The injuries are mounting up. Beatriz needs to go off. Kundananji is up but looks a bit groggy. Beatriz is off and bleeding from her head. The game continues with a goal kick. Giovana is going to come on to replace Beatriz and is warming up. Kundananji has been bandaged up and come back on for Zambia with a big white bandage around her head.

Possession is with Brazil for 69% and Zambia for 31% at 30 minutes in but half that time has been waiting for injuries.

Banda gets a free kick in the centre of the field, but Brazil are back in possession pretty quickly. Zambia seems to have one tactic, have almost everyone back in defence and kick it long to Banda. It’s reasonably effective but a bit predicable. Another long ball sees Banda and Barbara running towards it but Barbara is closer and quicker and clears it with a big kick as she’s well outside the box.

Brazil makes another foray into the box with Ludmilla passing to Giovana but Martha Tembo tackles her and hurts her own ankle. The ball is cleared but we’ve got another injury delay. She’s OK but limping a bit. And now a VAR check. They play on and it’s fine.

Marta gets a great ball on the right wing and sends t straight across the goal face bit Giovana can’t connect to convert.

We’ve played 45 minutes now and there’s 14 minutes of stoppage time. Is that a record?

Margaret Belemu has copped a smack to the face and is down. Play continues. It’s mostly with the Brazilians with the occasional run by Banda. Jucinara gets a free kick on the left of the box. Andressa is taking it. It’s headed by Rafaelle but it skims the crossbar.

Phiri gets a yellow for a challenge.

A Santos cross is kicked out for a Brazil corner. Marta takes it and it’s nearly an Olympico goal but the keeper gets a hand to it and pushes it out. The next corner from the other side is not well controlled by Formiga despite a nearly open goal. It’s a missed opportunity.

Above: Formiga, who missed a great opportunity to extend Brazil’s lead. Photo: Getty Images

Andressa takes a shot from the top of the box that hits the crossbar and bounces back into play. Santos’ cross finds Giovana but her header is saved. First half finally ends at 1-0 despite a few chances but given Zambia are down to ten, it’s a pretty lacklustre effort on behalf of Brazil.

In the second half, Formiga and Marta go off to be replaced by Julia and Duda.

Giovana goes down as she tries to save a ball going out and needs some quick medical attention but is ok. It starts raining heavily. A ball up the right sideline to Banda is cleared in a perfect sliding tackle by Rafaelle who is now the captain. Banda takes a ball right from half way down to the right side of the box before being tackled and Brazil getting the resulting throw in.

Kundananji passes to Banda on the right who brings the play into the box. There’s a bit of trickery and faking but she can’t get past the last defender and it’s cleared.

Brazil go on the attack led by Duda and eventually Ludmilla gets a good cross in but there’s no one in the box and it sails past goal harmlessly.

Poliana and Banda clash heads in a contested header. Poliana is down and looks like Benites is going to come on as she’s stretchered off too. This game is carnage. Geyse also on for Ludmilla   Banda appears to be OK. In the free kick, Grace Chanda goes for goal and narrowly misses the top bins.

A free kick on the right by Andressa goes to the far post in a probable direct attempt at goal but it’s just over the crossbar. Brazil keeps pressing but can’t get through the lines. Banda gets up the left but her cross goes out.

Angelina fouls Banda by going in feet first and Banda gets a shin full of studs and some medical treatment. She’s limping but is going to be OK. They get a free kick towards the top of the box. Chanda takes it but it goes high over the top post.

Above: Duda goes down under pressure from Zambia’s Lubandji Ochumba. Photo: Getty Images

Brazil gets a free kick through a manhandling. Debinha, on as a sub, takes it and goes for goal. It’s deflected off the wall for a corner. Only the third of the match. Debinha takes that too and it’s into the huddle then over the goal line.

Benites displays some fancy footwork before a cross that goes high.

Six minutes of extra time as Zambia goes on the attack. The game still seems open as Brazil haven’t been the dominant team as expected. A shot by Debinha goes over.

Evarine Katongo is on for Kundananji with the bandage for Zambia.

A Brazil free kick taken by Angelina comes into the box but Geyse’s header goes wide of goal.

Banda takes a very long shot to try to lob the keeper, Barbara, in a last minute attempt but it’s too high.

Debinha takes the ball down the left as the full time whistle goes and Brazil win unconvincingly. But three points are three points and Zambia have played their last match and end up in third place in the group. They can hold their head high though and it was a great tournament for them despite their results. A great experience and certainly showcased a couple of stars.

Above: Zambia, and Barbra Banda (centre) will be remembered as one of the best things about the women’s football at the Olympics this year. Photo: Getty Images.

Brazil goes through in second place in the group with Netherlands at the top of the table on goal difference. Both China and Zambia from this group are out having both finished with a single point, Zambia ahead on goal difference. Brazil will play Canada and the Netherlands will play the USWNT as the knockout rounds start on Friday.

Teams: BRAZIL: Barbara, Santos, Poliana, Rafaelle, Jucinara, Andressa, Formiga, Angelina, Marta (C), Ludmilla, Beatriz. Substitutes: Aline (GK), Julia, Duda, Debinha, Benites, Geyse, Giovana.

Scorer: Andressa 19.

ZAMBIA: Nali, Mweemba,  Lubandji, Belemu, Chanda, Banda, Chitundu, Tembo, Lungu, Musase, Kundananji. Substitutes: Mulenga, Wilombe, Mubanga, Phiri, Katongo, Mukwasa, Musole (GK).

Referee: Yoshimi Yamashita (JPN).

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