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′)
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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