In the first dead rubber match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Costa Rica met Zambia in Hamilton with both sides simply playing for pride. After losing their opening two matches, both nations would be keen to get some points on the board – and the Copper Queens would be in search of their first ever goal on the global stage.
CRC: Solera; Coto, Benavides, F Villalobos, del Campo; Rodriguez, Alvarado; Chinchilla, G Villalobos, Herrera; Scott
ZAM: Musonda; Tembo, Mweemba, Musesa, Belemu; S Banda; Kundananji, Katongo, Chanda, Chitundu; B Banda
Zambia’s early desperation for their first ever goal at a men’s or women’s senior World Cup paid off after just three minutes, as Lushomo Mweebmba connected beautifully with Avell Chitundu’s corner delivery, rising highest to nod the ball past the outstretched arm of Daniela Solera. The Copper Queens had done it – they’d scored at a World Cup, despite being the lowest-ranked nation at the tournament.
Bruce Mwape’s side were clearly wanting more, though Racheal Kundananji’s effort on goal from a free-kick found the gloves of the goalkeeper. But with twenty minutes played, Kundananji came even closer – running on to Barbra Banda’s cutback pass, before having a shot blocked by the Costa Rican defence.
Barbra Banda’s blistering pace looked to be a thorn in the side of the Costa Rican back line, as it allowed the Zambian forward to dart through the defence and deliver a cross from the right flank. Avell Chitundu was there to receive it at the far post, though her header from close-range was skewed just wide of the woodwork.
Despite that golden opportunity going begging, the Copper Queens were provided another chance to double their lead from the penalty spot. As she looked to shoot, Barbra Banda was hauled to the ground by Katherine Alvarado – the forward made no mistake from twelve yards, sending a strike comfortably into the bottom-left corner and leaving Daniela Solera with no chance of making the save.
Yet in the minutes leading up to the interval, Costa Rica’s search for a goal of their own came close to proving fruitious – as María Coto sought to get on the end of Katherine Alvarado’s free-kick delivery, though her header could only strike the woodwork.
That pressure continued into the second half, and after just two minutes, the Costa Rican side had something to show for it as Mélissa Herrera slammed the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble following a corner, leaving Catherine Musonda helpless.
Costa Rica were nearly granted an opportunity to bring themselves level from the penalty spot as Catherine Musonda committed a foul on Priscila Chinchilla – but a lengthy VAR review found that the Glasgow City star was in an offside position as Musonda made the challenge, meaning the penalty decision was reversed.
The Costa Ricans were keen to reduce the deficit as they forced Catherine Musonda into action once again at her near post, but las Ticas simply couldn’t find a breakthrough. With little over ten minutes remaining, Valeria del Campo looked be in the perfect position to slam home an equalising volley, though the right-back could only send her effort wide of the post.
Racheal Kundananji’s late pressure looked to extend the Zambian advantage as she darted towards goal on the left flank before forcing Daniela Solera into a fine save at the near post. Still keen to make her name on the global stage, the Madrid CFF forward eventually found her goal in the 93rd minute – as Barbra Banda found the striker on the penalty spot with a cut-back pass, and Kundananji made no mistake with a composed finish to beat Solera.
Both sides stood no chance of progressing in this match, and there were concerns that the dead rubber nature of the fixture might have transpired into the on-pitch action – but those worries were quickly put to bed by the Zambian attack. The Copper Queens claim their first ever win, and we’ll surely see them again in 2027.