Zambia beat Senegal to reach women's Cup of Nations semi-final and World Cup

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Zambia advanced to the last four at the women's Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after a penalty shoot-out victory over Senegal on Wednesday night.

The match at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca ended 1-1 after 90 minutes of stodgy transitions and inaccurate passing.

With a place in the last four bringing an automatic berth at the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, nerves could be attributed to the lack of fluency.

No team from either country had progressed to the semi-finals since the inception of the women's Africa Cup of Nations competition in 1991. Neither country had graced the women's World Cup.

Senegal who finished second in Group A behind Morocco, started the encounter with more purpose but Bruce Mwape's Zambians found their way into the game. However, they could not impose the rhythm of their short passing patterns.

Opportunity

Avell Chitundel had Zambia’s best chance mid-way through the first half when she was released on the right but she shot straight at Senegal goalkeeper Tenning Séné.

Nguenar Ndiaye broke the deadlock just after the hour mark but the joy was short-lived. Séné allowed Lushomo Mweemba's lofted free-kick into the goalmouth to slip through her grasp and Chitundi nodded the ball gleefully into the net.

Surprisingly, Zambia failed to test Séné's nerves with more high balls after her howler.

To her credit, Séné atoned for her error within a few minutes. She made herself big to thwart Xiomara Mapepa who was put clean through on goal by skipper Grace Chanda.

And in the shoot-out, Séné palmed away Mweemba's effort that could have sent Zambia into the semis.

Séné's redemption was to no avail. Ndeye Awa Diakhaté, who could have levelled the shoot-out at 3-3, missed the target.

That gave Zambia goalkeeper Hazel Nali the chance for glory. The 25-year-old sidefooted home with technique befitting a seasoned striker to secure a place for her team in the Zambian history books.

Senegal will have another chance to reach the World Cup. They will play in a repechage with one of the other losing quarter-finalists for a spot in the intercontinental play-offs.

Zambia will take on the winners of Thursday night's clash between South Africa and Tunisia in Rabat.

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