Disaster Strikes Again! Zambia draw with Algeria to miss out on AfCON Final
Zambia 3 – 3 Algeria (P Daka 34′, 80′, C Chama 52′ | R Ghezzal 19′, I Slimani 25′, 55′)
The Zambia national team will for a third successive time not be at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament after they were held to a 3 – 3 draw by visiting African Champions Algeria.
Despite a spirited fight to come from two goals down after a disastrous start to the game, the Chipolopolo fell short as the their disastrous start to the campaign has come to haunt them at this late stage.
Chipolopolo coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojević experimented with a back three and it terribly backfired with Zambia at sixes and sevens in the opening half hour that saw his team down by two goals in the first 25 minutes and it could have been worse.
It was clear from the start that Chipolopolo boys were not comfortable with the set-up and Adrian Chama and Luka Banda playing on the left and right side the back three respectively were struggling to cope with the wide runners.
The first goal came in the 19th minute after Banda was exposed at right back by an Islam Slimani run whose pin point cross found Ramiz Ghezzal at the back post to finish expertly despite the pressure from Chama.
Banda and Chama were at it again for the second goal after the latter was nutmegged in the box for the striker to square for Slimani who was not picked by the former in the 25th minute.
Micho then rang the changes in the 30th minute bringing in Lubambo Musonda for Luka Banda, the brighter of the back three, and Rodrick Kabwe for the anonymous Nathan Sinkala.
The subs had an immediate impact with Musonda coming close to providing an assist for Clatous Chama but he saw his shot go over the bar in the 31st minute.
in the 33rd minute, Kabwe whipped in a cross for Patson Daka who in the process was fouled for a penalty. The red-hot Austria based striker picked himself up to from the spot a minute later.
After the restart, Zambia continued to look the better side and their pressure paid off when Augustine Mulenga crossed for Clatous Chama in the box who made the slightest of touches with the ball to guide it beyond Adu-Rais Mbolhi in the Algeria goal in the 52nd minute.
At this stage, the wind was in the sails of the Chipolopolo as they were attacking in waves. But all the effort was undone by an error committed by skipper Kabaso Chongo who threw himself at Baghdad Bounedjah only to be beaten by his touch on the ball. The Algerian number nine went straight for the box and timed the release of the ball to perfection for Slamini to finshi in his stride in the 55th minute.
Substitute Moses Phiri won a late penalty for Zambia after he was pushed in the box and Daka again stepped up to finish from the spot in the 80th minute.
There was still drama in the final stages with a Daka goal disallowed for offside and desperate clearance by the Algerian defender coming off the upright.
Despite the late rally, it came to nothing and the game summed up Zambia’s fairing in the competition with a disastrous start and late rally which was never enough.
With Zimbabwe beating Botswana in the earlier kick off, the Warriors now have 8 points and they join group leaders as the two Group H qualifying teams. Zambia has fallen short as the draw moves them to four points with the final game being a formality in Zimbabwe.
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