CHAN 2018: Ivory Coast 0 – 2 Zambia – Tactics Review
The Zambia national soccer team emerged 2 – 0 victors over Ivory Coast to make it two wins in two and book a place in the last eight of the 2018 CHAN tournament being played in Morocco.
After the 3-1 win against Uganda in the first game, some doubted the Chipolopolo and labelled their win ‘unconvincing’ and thought had they faced a perceived better team (maybe by Pedigree or Performance on day or both) they would struggle.
However, it is important to know that a team may not dominate possession, not score a lot of goals or outsmart the opponent in all dynamics but still consider it as a Job well done as long as objectives on the particular day are met.
Against Ivory Coast, Zambia lined up in what appears to be coach Wedson Nyirenda’s preferred formation chiefly influenced by the players at his disposal and what he desires to get out of the match in a 1-4-4-2 (Top 2 as 1-1) as base formation and spreads of 1-3-3-4 in positive transition and 1-5-3-1-1 on the negative transition and a few other twitches depending on the passage of play and positioning of the ball at various stages of the game.
In Possession, Zambia were calmer on the ball in their own half and the moment the ball crossed centre line into opposition half they were lighting quick and moved the ball amongst themselves with excellent pace and mostly crisp passing.
This was made easier by the player’s awareness of own positional needs and even much more by the movement off the ball as evidenced in the 1st goal were Lazarous Kambole picked up Augustine Mulenga in a ‘copy and paste’ of the second goal scored against Uganda.
From the first Minute, the Zambian team showed verve on their play and it wasn’t hard to see they came to play and do a job on the opposition.
The ball circulation and effectiv retention was lovely. The Ivorians did not press high which allowed them more time on the ball and were patient enough not force the matter but wait for right runs into right spaces and channels and play into them.
The Central Midfield was more involved in the play and initiated most attacks than in previous game were they were by passed.
The wingers were at it again as Ernest Mbewe tormented his marker from start to finish with his direct approach while Augustine Mulenga dazzled with his easy on the eye take-ons and eliminated a few more.
Further, a lovely component was evident in the second goal. A classic counter attack with the compliments of Zanaco FC. The goal keeper initiated the attack with a pin point launch to Ernest Mbewe who covered some ground before finding Mulenga who had identified some space and eliminated 3 defenders (2 in one move) before showing composure to hammer it across the face of goal for Zambia’s Second. For those that need convincing, that goal should have gone a long way in doing so.
Defensively, the team was sound and Toaster Nsabata in goal only had one save to make off a Fonsinho strike early in the first half. The Ivorians looked like a side devoid of confidence and even the little they offered was dealt with accordingly.
Zambia pressed high from the front men who tried to prevent the quick ball forward and succeeded at it. Friday Samu who had come in the starting 11 for injury struck Ngonga may not have wowed going forward but was at it defensively, another sign that the team dynamics were intact.
Additionally, whenever the first line of pressing was breached the Central Midfielders moved up not in a cluster but as one socket after another with the wingers playing their role to defend too. The beauty of Mbewe and Augustine is for all their attacking talent, they offer as much defensively and relieve pressure off their full backs.
Donashano Malama was at his commanding best as he won most of his duels and used the ball effectively. Kondwani as ever showed alertness, awareness and was a calming influence in the middle.
With the knowledge of the quick wingers Ivory Coast had, Silwimba and Kapumbu were laid back and didn’t venture forward as they usually do. In one on ones, Both were solid but special mention for Kapumbu who was only beaten once and almost caused a penalty scare but that is the only time he was beaten in a 1V1 situation where he is mostly found wanting. Assured display.
The CB pairing of Adrian Chama and Ziyo Tembo was excellent when called upon and will only grow in confidence.
The ‘5 Ws and H ‘ questions were answered almost to full capacity in how we reacted upon ceding possesion or gaining of the same. Players new who to pick out, what to do with the ball, when to do something, in what areas this or that could not be done and most importantly How..
The team continues to show progress and with wingers like they have, they don’t necessarily need to create overloads to outnumber opponents but just use sheer strength and skill..where there is a will and skill there surely is a way.
Central midfield looks commanding and certain with what they do.
Back line looks solid and have a good goalkeeper as cover.
Front line is explosive and requires no invitation to come to the party, they always do.
With Morocco the most likely winners of Group A, Chipolopolo are better off winning the group and facing Sudan. The hosts are never an easy opponent and Sudan may struggle with Zambia’s speed and skill.
Better take the easier route if possible than inviting nerve wrecking moments not because of weakness but because of being wise enough. Even against Sudan the bullets will have to dig deep but a this will happen if they avoid Defeat against Namibia.
Namibia can’t be taken lightly, they were strong in the regional COSAFA and have been stubborn in the CHAN tournament too.
They haven’t conceded a goal and for a side that hasn’t had league action in a long time, they are out doing themselves. They have a good mixture of Youth and Experience but come Match day, we should be able to give them a good game.
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