Zambia were knocked out by Ghana at their first attempt to qualify for the global stage in 2008, losing 2-0 at home and 4-0 away to go out 6-0 on aggregate. After failing to field a team for the second competition in 2010, the southern African country easily beat Botswana 7-1 on aggregate in the first round of the 2012 qualifiers before facing African heavyweights Nigeria in the final round. They found the west Africans too tall a hurdle to overcome, losing 2-1 and 5-0.
After giving up a lead in Lusaka against South Africa and then needing to find an equalising goal in the second half, few believed that the Shepolopolo would be able to qualify for their first-ever World Cup finals by winning in South Africa. However, they stunned the hosts in Johannesburg with an opening goal and were not flustered, even when South Africa hit back. Two goals in the second half - the second of which when they were down to ten players - saw them make history by becoming the first women's team from their country to qualify for a World Cup finals.
Although the Zambians will be making their first-ever appearance on the global stage, they will go to Costa Rica buoyed by the confidence of having beaten favourites South Africa to qualify for the finals. Former Zambian international Kalusha Bwalya, who now heads his country's football federation, said it was a just reward for an ambitious women's football development programme. Coach Albert Kachinga will build his team around the likes of Irene Lungu and Grace Chanda, who between them scored the three goals in the 3-1 victory against South Africa. “Certainly the World Cup is a very big stage, so we need to prepare well. Preparation is the key to success. If we prepare well, I am pretty sure we will do well,” he said after the victory against South Africa.