By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, ABUJA BUREAU
The sole African representatives in the Tokyo Olympics women’s football event, Zambia bounced back from the humiliation of the first match to play out a respectable 4-4 draw with China in the second match of Group F.
Banda who scored her first hat-trick in the better forgotten 3-10 loss to Netherlands in the opening match of Group F once again stepped up from the crowd against China by scoring three goals for her team while Rachael Kundananji added one to make it 4-4 at the end of the tie.
Also, she became the first African woman footballer to score a hat-trick in ‘Copper Queens’ of Zambia’s 10-3 massacre by the Netherlands on Wednesday in Tokyo.
In Saturday’s game, Zambia fell behind again early as Wang Shuang opened the scoring for China in the sixth minute at the Miyagi Stadium.
But the Zambians fought back and it did not take long when Kundananji equalised for the Africans nine minutes later.
China pressed on and Shuang scored two goals in the space of one minute, (22nd and 23rd minutes), to give China a 3-1 lead just as Banda reduced the deficit from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute.
On resumption, Banda scored her second goal of the match to even the scoreline at 3-3 in the 46th minute and the 21-year old forward netted her second hat-trick in the 69th minute to put her side ahead for the first time in the game before China’s Shuang’s 84th penalty goal ensured that the game ends in a 4-4 draw. She scored all four goals for China on the day.
China and Zambia occupy the third and fourth positions respectively on the Group F table with a point each as both will face Netherlands and Brazil placed first and second on the log in their final group game.
Elsewhere, Netherlands and Brazil settled for 3-3 draw in the second Group F match while host Japan lost 0-1to Team Great Britain as Canada beat Chile 2-1 on Saturday.
But the big news of Match Day 2 was Team USA 6-1 thrashing of New Zealand in Group G three days after Sweden ended the reigning FIFA Women’s World Champions 3-0 in their first match of the tournament.
Curiously, four goals from four Americans and two gifted by New Zealanders gave Team USA a cushion to now focus on how to handle Australia in the last Group match in three days time.
Team USA goalscorers are Rose Lavelle (9′), Lindsey Horan (45′), Anna Erceg (63’OG), Christen Press (80′), Alex Morgan (88′) and (90+3′ OG) while Besty Hassett (72′) scored New Zealand lone goal.