The Copper Queens of Zambia on Wednesday defied the odds to complete their fairy tale race through the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers to beat Cameroon 2-0 and earn their debut ticket for the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Bruce Mwape’s side overturned away 3-2 away first leg loss against Les Lionnes last week in Yaoundé to defeat the latter at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka to advance on away goals rule following a 4-4 aggregate result.
The Copper Queens victory redeemed themselves after throwing away a one-nil lead in the first leg to lose in Cameroon.
Mwape, though, showed little emotions despite the historic qualification in the race to Tokyo where they lost just one match, drew one and won five matches.
"I am very happy to be the first coach to qualify the team to the Olympics. I may not look happy but it is just that I am a little stressed after all the shouting and giving instructions but it will all sink in when I get home," Mwape said.
"The result could have been positive in Cameroon but we only made silly mistakes at the back in the first leg. We had that hope, we never lost hope, we saw how Cameroon played in the first leg and we just continued where we left off in the first leg."
Mary Makawapila and Hellen Mubanga scored the critical goals to send Zambia through to their first ever Olympics while Ajara Nchout Njoya late goal gave the hosts a last minute scare.
Mwakapila put the Copper Queens ahead in the 10th minute with a smart drive from outside the box.
Cameroon gave Zambia very little resistance in the first half and ensured they went into the break two-down in the 42nd minute when Mubanga turned in an assist from Barbara Banda assist.
Les Lionnes had a better second period and Ngock Yango’s volley in particular the 67th minute was gathered by Hazel Nali.
But they were fortunate earlier in the 50th minute when Marie Owona made a crucial tackle inside the box to stop Banda to deny Zambia the prospect of a third goal.
Meanwhile, Zambia was breached in the 87th minute when they failed to deal with Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene's rebound that Ajara finished off but the Copper Queens held on to secure a historic qualification.
Cameroon on the other hand now prepare for a playoff against CONMEBOL runners-up Chile for a golden ticket to Tokyo.