Barbara Banda scores a hat-trick again as Copper Queens of Zambia on Saturday drew 4-4 with China in their Group F match of the Tokyo Olympics Women’s Football Event at the Miyagi Stadium.
But the match was more eye-catching not in the eight goals scored, but in the Zambian side’s captain scoring her second hat-trick of the competition after playing two games.
She had scored three goals against the Netherlands in their opening game, which they lost 10-3, and she now has six goals from two games.
Wang Shuang of China also made a name for herself by scoring all her side’s four goals, to stay at par with Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands who scored four against the Zambians.
In this match, the Zambian girls were actually on their way to victory before conceding a late penalty kick which ensured they shared the points.
The Chinese had a flying start when Wang Xiaoxue played a pass-through to Zhang Yin in the opening minute but the midfielder was caught offside.
Zambia responded two minutes later when the impressive Barbara Banda, who plays her club football in China, broke through to fire her effort wide, while Avell Chitundu’s tame effort was saved by goalkeeper Peng Shimeng.
The Chinese hit back by opening the scoring in the sixth minute when Zhang Xin found an unmarked Wang Shuang, who slotted home from inside the box.
Zambia came back fighting, drawing level by the quarter of an hour mark when Racheal Kundananji noded home Esther Siamfuko’s cross.
As the match opened up, the Chinese restored their advantage in the 22nd minute through Wang Shuang, who connected beautifully to Wang Shanshan’s header.
Wang Shuang completed her hat-trick a minute later when she converted another Wang Shanshan pass with a clinical finish to give China a two-goal cushion.
However, Zambia pulled one back deep into first-half added time when they earned a penalty kick after a foul on Kundananji with Banda making no mistake from the spot.
Banda was on the prowl again after the restart and drew the African side level from a well-organised fast break.
Kundananji was in the thick of the action, breaking away from the Chinese defence before finding Banda, who scored with a sublime finish.
The momentum shifted in Zambia’s favour with Banda coming close again in the 67th minute on the counter-attack.
But Peng was at her best to foil the 21-year-old forward’s attempt from inside the box.
Banda’s persistence paid off two minutes later when she dribbled past two Chinese defenders before slotting home past Peng.
There was, however, to be one final twist in the match as Wang Shuang drew China level in the 84th minute.
She converted from the penalty kick spot after a handball by Zambia’s Lushomo Mweemba.
Li Qingtong’s sending-off brought the pulsating match to an end.
Zambia is in Group F alongside the Netherlands, Brazil and China PR, with both Brazil and the Dutch in three points each and China PR and Zambia one point each.
NAN reports that Zambia is the only women’s football team representing Africa at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.