By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
ZAMBIA on Saturday edged Japan 24-22 to win the third edition of the Zambia-Japan handball friendship match played at National Sports Development Centre (NASDEC) in Lusaka.
The Zambian squad led by Handball Association of Zambia (HAZ) president Victor Banda were tactically a better side with national team coach Nicolai Moenster scoring powerful goals.
Zambia dominated the first half with Mwenda Bwalya opening the scoring three minutes into the game before Banda and Felix Mashiba tripled the scores.
Japan returned stronger in second half with determined female handballer Yutaro Atzana causing havoc for Zambia’s male defenders and finding the back of the net thrice. Fast-paced Hiroki Suzuki, Yuto Morita and Mtdori Sanada also scored for Japan. Speaking after the match, Japanese ambassador to Zambia Hidenobu Sobashima his country’s continuous support to handball.
Sobashima said the Japanese people were looking forward to the handball team’s qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I am determined to do my best, building upon the long-standing friendly and cooperative relationship between Japan and Zambia,” he said. Banda and National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) president Alfred Foloko thanked the Japanese embassy for their expert and financial support to handball.
“We are grateful for your continued support rendered to handball, which has seen the sport grow and perform better. It is our desire as well, that the Zambian team qualifies to the Olympics,” he said.