German Women's National Team Stumbles in World Cup Dress Rehearsal, Losing 2-3 to Zambia
The German women's football team bid farewell to the World Cup with a huge disappointment against Zambia. Under the guidance of coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, the team suffered a 2-3 (0-0) defeat in their final test match in Fürth against the African underdogs, revealing concerning defensive weaknesses.
In front of 11,404 spectators, the outstanding striker Barbra Banda (48th minute, 90+12) and Racheal Kundananji (54th minute) found the net for the visitors. Despite late goals from Lea Schüller (90+1) and captain Alexandra Popp (90+10), the German team fell short.
The tournament in Australia and New Zealand will kick off for the German players on July 24th in Melbourne against Morocco. In the last casting for the 23 roster spots before the final squad announcement this Saturday, only established vice-European champions from last year were in the starting lineup.
Coach Voss-Tecklenburg fielded a complete defensive lineup, including a total of eight players from Champions League finalists VfL Wolfsburg. Svenja Huth, who is usually an offensive player, played as a right-back, making way for her club teammate Jule Brand. The first promising attacks from the German team came through the speedy 20-year-old Brand.
The offensive forces Lina Magull and Klara Bühl started the match this time and initially provided a visible boost to the German team. All Bayern Munich aces were absent in the hard-fought 2-1 victory over Vietnam two weeks ago due to their late arrival at the training camp.
DFB Defense Overwhelmed by Barbra Banda
Just before kick-off, Voss-Tecklenburg emphasized in an interview with ARD that they needed to "be careful defensively, especially with long balls because they are very good at that and have very fast forwards." One of those long balls was intercepted by the strong captain, Banda, and her curling shot almost beat goalkeeper Merle Frohms. Bühl and Felicitas Rauch missed good chances for the German team before halftime.
In the second half, Chelsea players Melanie Leupolz and Sjoeke Nüsken replaced Oberdorf and the slightly injured defensive leader Marina Hegering. A ball loss by Brand led to the opening goal. Kathrin Hendrich couldn't catch up with Banda, who slotted the ball into the net. The 23-year-old forward, who could make a big impact at the World Cup, then set up Kundananji for the second goal - the German defense looked completely overwhelmed.
The hosts lacked efficiency in front of goal, wasting too many chances. Nüsken hit the post with a header, and Sydney Lohmann from Bayern Munich, as well as her teammate Carolin Simon, missed the opportunity to score and narrow the gap. Simon's indirect free-kick rattled off the underside of the crossbar. It wasn't until the start of the more than ten-minute stoppage time that substitute Schüller scored from a corner kick to make it 1-2. Popp even managed to equalize in the dying moments, but a counter-attack sealed Germany's defeat.
Considering the opening opponent in the World Cup, Voss-Tecklenburg deliberately chose an African team for the final test match. On Saturday, the 55-year-old coach will announce her 23-player squad for the World Cup, which will take place from July 20th to August 20th in Australia and New Zealand. The current roster consists of 28 players. On Tuesday, the German team will fly to Sydney. In the group stage, they will face Morocco, Colombia, and South Korea.