Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Zambia International Forward Barbra Banda

The Pride acquire Zambia international striker Barbra Banda from Shanghai Shengli FC.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced today that the club has signed Zambia international forward Barbra Banda on a transfer from Chinese Women’s Super League side Shanghai Shengli FC. The Pride used Allocation Money to complete the singing after agreeing to a $740,000 transfer fee. The deal is for four years, keeping her in Orlando through the 2027 NWSL season, and includes a sell-on clause for any future transfer.

“It has always been our vision to build the Orlando Pride into an NWSL championship contender, and we believe investment in the world’s best players is a prerequisite for success. Barbra Banda brings a new level of technical skill, physicality, and pace to our attack and she is an exciting and entertaining addition to our roster,” Pride Owner and Chairman Mark Wilf said in a club press release. “We thank Shanghai Shengli FC and their leadership for partnering with us to bring Barbra to Orlando and to the National Women’s Soccer League. Our fans have much to look forward to as we prepare to kick off the regular season.”

The deal marks one of the largest investments for a player in NWSL history. The forward will join the Pride following the receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

“I’m thankful for the confidence the Wilf family has in our staff and our recommendation to invest heavily in a world-class talent like Barbra. Her stellar performance in the Olympics, World Cup, and Chinese Women’s Super League solidified her as a must-have target,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in the club’s press release. “I also appreciate the leadership at Shanghai Shengli FC for their work with us and with Barbra on this transaction. They have done a phenomenal job developing her and are setting a new precedent within Chinese women’s football. Barbra is a natural born goal scorer and one of the most physically imposing forwards in the world. Turning only 24 years old this month, we have every confidence she will be an impact player in our attack for years to come. We are excited to help her grow and expand upon the various layers of her game and cannot wait to see her in purple.”

Banda joined Shanghai Shengli in 2020, making an immediate impact with 18 goals in 13 games and winning the CWSL Golden Boot. This past season, she scored 16 goals and recorded five assists. In total, the forward scored 41 goals in 52 games for Shanghai.

While she’s had a distinguished club career, Banda made her name at the international level for Zambia. She made her debut in 2016 as a teenager, making her country’s roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021 due to the pandemic). She scored back-to-back hat tricks in the tournament, netting the goals against the Netherlands and China. The accomplishment was a first in Olympic history and the first time a player had done so in a single tournament.

In 2022, Banda led Zambia to victory in Africa’s top international competition, the COSAFA Women’s Championship, scoring 10 goals in five games and winning the Golden Ball. She went on to net a brace in a lead-up game to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, scoring the winner in stoppage time against second-ranked Germany in a shocking upset.

Most recently, Banda led Zambia as captain in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She scored the game-winning goal in her country’s final group stage game, a 3-1 win over Costa Rica. It was the nation’s first-ever World Cup win and the 1,000th goal in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the end of the year, she was named the IFFHS World’s Best International Goal Scorer and is Africa’s all-time leader in Olympic goals.

This year, Banda helped Zambia advance in qualification for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris with a brace against Ghana in a 4-3 aggregate win. She’ll continue the Olympic qualifying campaign in early April at the 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

What This Means for Orlando

The Pride lost starting striker Messiah Bright to Angel City FC this off-season after she asked for a transfer for personal reasons. It was unclear who would start up top for the Pride as they had Ally Watt returning and signed Simone Charley as a free agent. While Pride Head Coach Seb Hines had options at the position, the team lacked a proven striker.

Not only have the Pride found a suitable replacement for Bright, they’ve improved at the position. Carter recently told The Mane Land’s SkoPurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on defense last year and the midfield this year. She also said 2024 would be the “year of Ally,” referring to Watt, so it was unclear if the team would make a signing like this. However, Orlando now has an internationally proven goal scorer and depth at the position.

During the team’s recent rebuild, the club sent several veteran starters away for draft picks and Allocation Money. While the moves came with criticism from fans, the Pride have been using it wisely. In addition to building a strong roster through the draft, they’ve now used Allocation Money to acquire Adriana, expansion draft protection, and now a top goal scorer.


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