Zambia's Banda 'focused' ahead of Women's Africa Cup of Nations

By Mohamed Fajah BarrieBBC Sport, Sierra Leone
Barbara Banda
Zambia's Barbara Banda plays for Logrono in the Spanish Women's La Liga.

Zambia star forward Barbara Banda has warned that her country will not go to the Women's Africa Cup Of Nations in Ghana just to make up the numbers.

Zambia are placed in group B of the eight-team tournament alongside defending champions Nigeria, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea who they will face in their opening game on 18 November.

The championship also serves as qualifiers for the Women's World Cup with the top three African teams securing a place at France 2019.

"We want to qualify to the World cup. We are not going to Ghana as mere participants," Banda told the Zambia Football Association.external-link

"The teams look tough on paper but we won't look at names.

"Whether it's Nigeria or South Africa we are focused and we shall conquer," Banda added.

Banda will be under pressure to deliver after joining a top tier league in Spain where Zambia have no representation in the men's La Liga.

She made her debut for her club Logrono almost a week ago and scored, becoming the first Zambian to play in the Spanish women's La Liga.

Banda, the most high profile player in Zambia coach Bruce Mwape's squad, has already joined her national teammates at a training camp in Abidjan from where they will depart for Ghana.

Shepolopolo defeated Ghana 2-1 at home in a warm-up match earlier this month after they had finished fourth in the regional Cosafa Championship in Port Elizabeth in September having beaten Cameroon, Lesotho and Mozambique in the group stage.

Zambia previously played in two Women's Nations Cup tournaments - in 1995 when they reached the quarter-final and 2014 when they failed to go beyond the group stage.

Should Equatorial Guinea finish in the top three, they would not qualify for next year's World Cup in France after a ruling by Fifa in 2017.

Hosts Ghana are in group A with Algeria, Cameroon and Mali.

Zambia squad:

Goalkeepers: Catherine Musonda (Indeni), Hazel Nali (Green Buffaloes), Chiko Nkhoma (Red Arrows)

Defenders: Lushomo Mweemba (Nwazi), Anita Mulenga (Green Buffaloes) Margaret Belemu (Red Arrows), Martha Tembo (Green Buffaloes), Jacqueline Nkole (Indeni), Agness Musase (Green Buffaloes), Vast Phiri (Zesco), Grace Zulu (Indeni)

Midfielders: Mary Mwakapila, Ireene Lungu (Green Buffaloes), Judith Zulu (Green Buffaloes), Hellen Chanda (Red Arrows), Avell Chitundu (Zesco)

Forwards: Hellen Mubanga (Red Arrows), Grace Chanda (Zesco), Lubandji Ochumba Oseke (Nkwazi), Racheal Kundanaji (Indeni), Barbara Banda (EDF Logroño, Spain)

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