Tokyo 2020: Zambia captain Barbra Banda undaunted by the draw for Olympics

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Zambia women’s football captain Barbra Banda has said she is not scared of the Copper Queens to draw for the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Africa’s only representatives in the women’s tournament are in Group F alongside Brazil, eight-time Asian champions China and Netherlands, who are currently ranked number three in the world.

Banda, who plays in China for Shanghai Shengli, insists her team will not be daunted by their opponents at The Games despite the fact they will be making their debut at a global tournament.

“We don’t have any problem with the group we have been drawn in, we are ready for the games and we are still preparing ourselves adequately,” the 21-year-old told BBC Sport Africa.

“We just have to prove ourselves and show ourselves what we are capable of doing as a team.

“I don’t think at my level I would feel intimidated by any team. I am not scared, and my teammates are not scared. The group is fairly drawn, so we are just ready for the games and we are ready for any team.”

She also insisted that her team is not simply going there to take part and their aim is to get past the group stages.

“The preparations are going on well. As a team we are trying to work on our weaknesses and whatever we are lacking as a team. I think we are heading somewhere,” she added.

“Looking at Zambia, we only have a few professional players, the majority are local players but as a team, we are working together. I think it will take us somewhere.

“We are not looking at who or the names of the teams we have been drawn with. We have a big dream and we want to achieve something better on those games.

“We don’t want to go there and come out at the first round. We want to go through the rounds and maybe through the semi-finals or quarter-finals.”

As well as Banda two other Zambian players currently play overseas with Rachel Nachula and Hellen Mubanga both at Spanish side Zaragoza CFF.

If Zambia is able to reach the quarter-finals they would match the feat of Nigeria in 2004, as the only African side to make it past the opening round of matches.

In the men’s tournament, where teams are only allowed three players over the age of 24, Ivory Coast looks to have a tough draw alongside 2016 gold and silver medallists in Brazil and Germany. Saudi Arabia are the other team in Group D.

The Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt, for who Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, 28, will be eligible to play for, are in Group C with Spain, Argentina and Australia.

South Africa, who have included Brighton forward Percy Tau, 26, in their preliminary squad for Tokyo, will be playing hosts Japan, Mexico and France.

Women’s tournament

Group E: Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Chile

Group F: China, Brazil, Zambia, Netherlands

Group G: Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand

Men’s tournament

Group A: Japan, South Africa, Mexico, France.

Group B: New Zealand, Korea Republic, Honduras, Romania.

Group C: Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Australia.

Group D: Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia.