2023 World Cup: Can Barbra Banda make history with Zambia once again?

Zambia's Barbra Banda controls the ball next to Brazil's Jucinara during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Zambia's Barbra Banda controls the ball next to Brazil's Jucinara during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo by Ayaka Naito / AFP)

When Barbra Banda stepped up to represent Zambia at the 2020 Olympics, few would have guessed that the striker would have put her name on the global stage by the end of the tournament.

Scoring back to back hat-tricks against the Netherlands and PR China, the forward became the first player in Olympic history to achieve the feat. Despite Zambia’s early departure, Banda had made her name as one of the standout players of the competition. 

The 23-year-old was also the Chinese Super League’s top scorer back in 2020.  With her club currently sitting second in the league table, Banda has contributed with nine goals from Shanghai RCB’s ten matches this season and continues to set the standards in the Super League. With such good club form, Banda could well be one-to-watch at this years World Cup.

Banda was absent for Zambia at the 2022 WAFCON after she was banned from competing. The striker failed eligibility tests to prove her gender due to naturally elevated testosterone levels. However, it was confirmed earlier this year that Banda would be representing her country down under. 

Who will Barbra Banda and Zambia face in Australia and New Zealand? 

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This summer’s tournament will mark Zambia’s debut at a World Cup. They qualified for the competition with victories over Malawi, Tunisia, Togo and Senegal alongside a draw against Namibia.

They will play in group C, which will see them facing tough competition to progress from the group stage. Kicking off their campaign against Japan, Zambia will face Spain just four days later, before wrapping up their group stage campaign against Costa Rica on July 31st.

If Banda can bring her club form into the tournament, it may be unwise to underestimate Zambia.

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