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AFCON U23: Zambia’s Olympic dream in jeopardy after loss to Nigeria

Zambia 1-3 Nigeria (P. Daka 12′ | O. Okwonkwo 16′, K. Nwakali 65′, Awoniyi 90′)

The Zambia U23 national team’s chances of qualifying to the knockout stage of the on-going U23 Africa Cup of Nations were dealt a huge blow after they suffered a 3 – 1 defeat to defending champions Nigeria.

Patson Daka put Zambia ahead in the 12th minute but the Nigerians leveled through Orji Okwonkwo four minutes later.

Nwakali scored a second in the 65th minute before T. Awoniyi made it 3 – 1 in stoppage time as Zambia pushed for the equalizer which left them exposed at the back.

It was a brave call by coach Beston Chambeshi to start Austria based duo of Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka despite them joining the team less than 24 hours before kick off. His gamble paid off as the two look lively especially in the first half and they combined in the first minute when Daka robbed the defender of the ball to set up Mwepu but his shot was blocked.

Nigeria were enjoying possession but with Mwepu and Emmanuel Banda pulling the strings in midfield, every time the young Chipolopolo were on the ball they were looking threatening with their pace.

Emmanuel Banda set up Daka on the run after a one two interchange of passes and the Red Bull Salzburg striker beat the keeper with a neat finish in the box.

Zambia were caught in four minutes later from a corner when Okwonkwo reacted first to tap in from a corner.

Nigeria were controlled the game better in the second half with Mwepu tiring and they took advantage when a Nwakali drove a powerful shot from a free kick past a poorly aligned wall.

Chambeshi threw in everything at the Nigerians ending in the final stages and they capitalized on this when Mangani came way off his line but was beaten to the ball by Awoniyi to kill off the game with the last touch of the game.

Bottom placed Zambia who have a point will now face Ivory Coast in the final group game while Nigeria face South Africa who beat Ivory Coast to go top of group B.

There will be all to play for as each team has a chance to qualify though a draw between South Africa and Nigeria will see Zambia missing out on the semi final spot and a chance to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Zambia Starting XI

1. Mangani Banda, 13. Shemmy Mayembe, 3. Prosper Chilufya, 2. Moses Nyondo, 5. Solomon Sakala, 19. Ngosa Sunzu, 12. Emmanuel Banda (Edward Chilufya), 11. Enock Mwepu, 10. Fashion Sakala (Lameck Banda), 15. Biston Banda (Kings Kangwa), 20. Patson Daka

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24 Comments to AFCON U23: Zambia’s Olympic dream in jeopardy after loss to Nigeria

  1. Muchofe says:

    For me, that was poor performance indeed. We had a relatively good defense despite conceding goals coz the boys were quite alert tithe back. What led us into problems was the midfield and uncoordinated front line. Fashion Sakala had too many fouls. That ka boy who caused a free kick leading the second goal didn’t only put us in a dangerous position but also open up as he advanced forward during the process; for the free kick taker to lob the ball in the far corner. Chambeshi is not a good coach..and for sure we don’t have quality coaches in zambia. In all, poor planning by FAZ and coaches led to that. The same is likely to happen today. Mark my words. Or is it the economy sure???

    • Paddy says:

      Relatively good defense? Boss, when you have a defense that swiches off at key moments like we did for Nigeria’s opener and then to have a player break away from the wall to create space for their second goal you don’t call that a relatively good defense. Indisciplined defense sounds more like it. And to cup it all their 3rd goal showed us just why we have a joke of a goalkeeper in Mangani Banda. Utter BS!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This the reason we don’t want local coaches

  3. wake up says:

    sometimes the other team is just simply better and no coach or technical bench can change the fact of induvial brilliance on the field, today we were simply outclassed by the better team. The west are too physical for us we need to play more friendlies and even change the diet of our players to beef up more power.

    • Paddy says:

      unless I was watching a different match – to say we were outplayed is being very economical with the truth. The difference is that Nigeria took their chances and were better organised while we lacked composure in the final 3rd and more importantly lacked discipline at the back. we had enough chances in the first half to dispatch Nigeria but it just wasn’t our day. I watched RSA beat Ivory Coast earlier and if put our house in order we can get a result against Ivory Coast.

  4. wake up says:

    @paddy being optimistic is one thing but being realistic with constant excuses is another, ask yourself how many time you have said “we would have beaten them if we took our chances” this is my whole point if you cant take chances your simply not there yet, others don’t miss chances because they are well prepared and have the ability to do so. Continuous excuses is not developing our football, we need to simply analyise our weakness and work solely on that, There’s no point saying we could have should have would have. We need to step up our ability to match the west and north simple and plain.

    • Paddy says:

      @wake up I really don’t know what your point is. You say “we need to analyse our weakness and work solely on that.” That’s exactly what I’m saying when I say we switched off on key moments of the match leading to the 1st and 2nd goals. Does that sound like I’m giving excuses? you cannot analyse a match without pin pointing mistakes that were made. We lost the match not because Nigeria outplayed us, but rather because they out-scored us. There’s a big difference between the two. Take emotions out and you will see clearly.

  5. Bright Okechukwu says:

    Yeah I’m Nigerian and I’ll have to agree with you, we were absolutely poor and majority of Nigerian fans don’t think the coach is good, needless to say our players were just hastily cobbled together few weeks to the tournament without training together, or even having match fitness… not a very good Nigerian team but we can only hope to improve.

  6. thoko Ngwenya says:

    Chambeshi should have used the team that played the first match. And he would have added his pros in the second half. The defence is still shaky, numerous fouls committed, set piece and corners need working on. I dont understand the decision of the defender who left the wall? And goal needs to be decisive.
    Nigeria was better composed but nothing special.

    • wake up says:

      you don’t have to be special you just need to know how to win at all cost, this is what we lack and the west and north have, the ability to win even if the soccer game is a shit boring one, Nigeria was better composed as you said this simply won them the game, maybe we should also work on being ”Better Composed” if it wins games,even if its nothing special as you stated. These days im going to be analyising where we go wrong and will no longer support mediocracy just because Zambia is my team. We need to call a spade for spade and accept truth its the only way forward.

  7. The wake up says:

    Where is Sibs? his the only logical thinker on this platform, we need serious intervention and input from those who can assess our style of play without getting emotions attached to it. once we attach emotion you get blinded with the analysis, Just pretend you are not a Zambian and rate the team with constructive criticism. That’s how we identify our weakness

  8. GSK11 says:

    Agree with everyone.
    Nigeria, again, were far better.
    Mangani Banda even f he improves on certain things is a liability , can never add inches to his height.
    This was a tournament that we had every chance of winning…now … bottom of the group.

  9. Big Steve 4rm SA says:

    I didn’t watch the game but how could the coach not factor in the issue of jet lag. He himself has travelled quite a bit now so he understands. How can the three players who just arrived all be in the starting lineup after arriving just hours before the game. At best they could have played an effective 30 minutes.

    • naijaguy says:

      Lol. Taiwo Awoniyi that scored the last goal just arrived camp a day before the game from Germany, and he played 90 mins. So stop using jet lag as an excuse.. your coach was tactically outsmarted. simple

  10. Jeke says:

    While offense wins games, defense wins championships! Zambian football, from club to age based national teams, up to Chipolopolo seems to have the ability to defend tightly & consistently until we regain that ability we will continue to struggle on he international stage…🤔

  11. Pungwa says:

    Kalu told us “we do not have qualified Zambians to coach the national team”we fall short when it comes to tactics, team selection and team management. It showed at the under 20 world cup – with the right coach, we could have gone further. This is as far as Chambeshi can take us ! Lets me also share a frieds feeling on this team “Bola na Lesa!

    This is both a failed concept and experiment!
    Football is all about team planning, selection, technical preparedness and match management!

    I cannot tolerate players becoming pastors who share verses form the Bible???

    Come on who needs such?

  12. Redmachine says:

    The problem is that we want to win these developmental tournaments at all costs. Patson and Mwepu have already played for senior national team. Why should you bring them back to under 23? How do you then give confidence to play for main team?
    Mangani Banda doesn’t play for his club how was he picked for this and under 20.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Utter disappointment. The coach’s time is up this failure is not lack of resources but limited tactical planning and analysis. Honestly with a better equipped coach Nigeria could have fallen its everywhere in all our teams.time for expatriates as locals get more training. The dream is over!!

  14. Sibs says:

    Gentlemen i did not watch the game and cant say much on the way we played. For those saying Patson and Mwepu had jet lag. What jet lag? Its only 3 Hrs and 20 minutes from Vienna Austria to Cairo. The boys had lot of Hours to rest, more than 10Hrs before the game, Lets be honest our Coach was exposed tactically, technically and he could not read the game. I’m told were playing long balls through out. Last tournament at the U20 we got knocked out by an Italian team with 10 men on the pitch. The Coach seems to hit a ceiling at this level.

    Chris Katongo on twitter was saying some players have failed to “up” their game from U20 to the next level but yet they still in the team. I couldn’t agree with him more. G.Lungu from Super Sport and the Big boy Chibwe (Goalkeeper) from Polokwane City and the other boy from Kabwe Warriors a defender forgotten his name are just a few players Chambeshi refused to add to the team saying he selected players on merit.

    “The bark stops with the Coach”. He can’t take us to a higher level. Oh i have nothing personal against him .Myself being a Nkana fan would want him to succeed but i don’t see him being a game changer with his selections and tactics. This team has lots of talent but has been failed by the Coaching staff chapwa.

  15. I watched the game and would say I was very disappointed with the way the team played. Long balls upfront knowing very well we do not have a target man in the team. Long balls and high balls is not our trade mark. Nigerian defenders were taller, so why post ma long and useless high balls upfront??? It was shocking

    2 early Christmas gifts to Nigeria
    1. The first goal should have been prevented had our defenders been close enough to the guy who scored. No pressure therefore he had all the time in the world to bang it in. From a corner to his foot and there it was 1-1. That was a gift
    2. The second goal from a free kick. From the way the wall was mounted we could all see the gap to the right. That wall should have been moved to the right in order to cover the whole area up to the goal post. Goalkeeper should have checked this. Instead there was a gap the size of a wide open mouth of a hippo in the Luangwa River (The same happened at under20 in the game vs Italy, same Mangani, free kick went in, I was therefore not surprised
    3. Third goal can’t blame anyone, but surely with alert players the first 2 goals would have been prevented

    What next??
    We still have a chance especially that Ivory Coast are under pressure to win and they qualify. It is a tricky group going into the last games. Why?

    South Africa:
    South Africa has 4 points, Nigeria 3, Ivory Coast 3 and Zambia 1, fine
    For South Africa to progress they should either beat or draw Vs Nigeria. A loss to Nigeria will leave them on 4 points

    Nigeria:
    Nigeria will have to win their game in order to progress. A draw will leave them at 4 points while a win will leave them at 6 points

    Ivory Coast:
    Ivory Coast will need to beat Zambia to get to 6 points. A draw will leave them at 4 points, while a loss will leave them at 3 points

    Zambia:
    For Zambia there is only one solution beat Ivory Coast by as many goals as possible and get on 4 points and then see what happens in the other game.

    Conclusion:
    The best scenario for Zambia is as follows;
    South Africa should beat Nigeria by any margin and move top with 7 points while Nigeria remains at 3 points. Zambia beats Ivory Coast by any margin and moves second with 4 points while both Nigeria and Ivory Coast end up with only 3 points. It is the only chance that we have and I think we should go for this. Hope SA beats Nigeria and we beat Ivory Coast then we will be through. Nothing is impossible

  16. Sibs says:

    @Justice This team did not need to get us getting Scientific Calculators. We are in the hands of other teams now. Sad we have to use probabilities and statistics. Chances are very minimal. Nigeria must analyzed our style of play. Credit to their Coaching stafff.

    • Lukanga Kafusha Justice says:

      @Sibs I totally agree you the chances are minimal, but football being the game it is, some times you never know, we have to play for the minimum chance that we have. We have nothing to lose after all. Hope is the last thing to lose. I will keep my fingers crossed and really hope this time things go our way

  17. Hunter Shilesa says:

    2nd half not even a single shot at goal, how can you win? Zambia is out in even if they beat ivory coast, so sad.

  18. Chu says:

    So when is the news of the 5-0 whitewash in Algeria coming?. I have to comment after 2 years of absence

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