Zambia Eye Repeat Olympic Qualification against Transformed Morocco in CAF Paris 2024 Qualifier

Zambia’s Copper Queens face Morocco in a two-legged CAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinal on Friday, 5 April, 2024 . Photo: Football Association of Zambia on Twitter

Two coveted Paris 2024 Olympic Games women’s football berths hang in the balance over the course of the next week as Zambia’s Copper Queens face Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses in a two-legged CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinal at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola at 7pm on Friday, 5 April, 2024.

Zambia host Morocco in the day’s second clash, two hours after kickoff in Abuja, Nigeria, where Banyana Banyana begin their quest for one of Africa’s two Paris Games berths, away to the Super Falcons at 5pm (CAT).

The day’s second clash promises to be a fascinating encounter, contrasting a team with recent Olympic experience against a rapidly developing force. Zambia, led by the recently transferred superstar Racheal Kundananji, seeks a return to the Olympic stage after featuring in Tokyo 2020. Morocco, on the other hand, is on an upward trajectory, aiming for their first-ever Olympic appearance in women’s football. 

Zambia carries the weight of expectation, having enjoyed a dominant display against Morocco in their last encounter – a resounding 6-2 victory in September 2023. 

However, Kundananji, Zambia’s star striker who recently shattered the world record transfer fee for a female footballer, acknowledges the challenge ahead: 

“This won’t be an easy task,” says Kundananji, speaking to CAFOnline.com. “We just need to be ready for the challenge because Morocco is a big side, and they are also aiming to qualify. They are also studying us, so we need to be fully prepared.” 

Morocco, under the guidance of world-champion coach Jorge Vilda, is a different team compared to the one Zambia faced last year. Vilda’s structured approach and emphasis on possession have instilled a new level of tactical awareness in the Atlas Lionesses. 

Sakina Ouazraoui, a key player for Morocco, acknowledges the lessons learned from the previous encounter:

“We lost control of the match, unlike Zambia, who were much more diligent,” reflects Ouazraoui. “We learned a lot about ourselves and them during those defeats. We know that this is a team that has super-fast players. They played a lot on the counter-attack with Barbra Banda’s attacks, it’s up to us to keep an eye on things now.”

Both teams are driven by a strong desire to qualify for the Olympics. For Zambia, it represents a chance to repeat their historic achievement. For Morocco, it’s a golden opportunity to reach the pinnacle of women’s football on the global stage. 

Ouazraoui speaks for the entire Moroccan team when she describes the significance of reaching the Olympics to CAFOnline.com:

“It’s another dream that we want to make a reality,” says Ouazraoui. “To be among the twelve best teams in the world would be something huge. A pride for our country. We show to what extent Moroccan women’s football is constantly evolving.”

While Zambia possesses the advantage of recent success against Morocco, the Atlas Lionesses’ tactical improvements and newfound confidence under Vilda cannot be ignored. This encounter promises to be a closely contested affair, with both teams leaving everything on the pitch for a coveted berth at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

The contrasting styles of play – Zambia’s pace on the counter-attack versus Morocco’s possession-based approach – will make for a thrilling tactical battle. The outcome hinges on which team can adapt to the occasion, exploit their strengths, and minimise their weaknesses.


Main Photo Caption: Zambia’s Copper Queens face Morocco in a two-legged CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinal on Friday, 5 April, 2024 . Photo: Football Association of Zambia on Twitter

Photo 2 Caption: Members of Morocco’s Atlas Lionesses pictured ahead of the opening fixture in the two-legged CAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinal. Photo: Équipe du Maroc on Twitter

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