Sunday, July 14, 2024

From Israel with AFCON love for Zambia

Sometimes help comes from the strangest of places–- just ask Chipolopolo of Zambia.

After all, who could have imagined that Israel could provide the cure for Zambia’s Afcon disease?

It took an Israeli coach Avram Grant’s tactical acumen to drag Zambia back to where they have always belonged but where they couldn’t just belong– Afcon finals.

The ex-Chelsea boss granted Zambia a 3-0 win over Ivory Coast Coast on Saturday afternoon and with it, 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification.

Grant proved to be the cure the medicine man ordered for Zambia who had last qualified for Afcon finals in 2015.

Finally, 3-1 and 2-0 wins over Lesotho under Grant left Zambia gunning for just a point going into Saturday’s Group H encounter at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

Chipolopolo top the group on 12 points, two points ahead of the already qualified hosts Elephants each with a game to go.

Zambia had a dream start to the game after some misfortune for the Ivorians.

Nottingham Forest defender Sergie Aurier’s own goal handed the hosts the lead in the first half.

Zambia doubled the advantage in the second half when Leicester City striker Patson Daka scored the second goal.

Hopes of Ivory Coast’s fight- back vanished when midfielder Kings Kangwa proved that he is not just a king in creative play but also in scoring with the third insurance strike.

Grant usually hardly smiles but after this goal the Israeli could be forgiven for going against his own demenour.

Finally, Zambia are back where they belong among the big boys of African football–-this felt like the real KK XI of Kenneth Kaunda’s days.

Grant is back to the Afcon finals eight years after he led Ghana to the final he lost to the same Elephants on post-match penalties.

Saturday’s win was no doubt a matter of personal pride and triumph for Grant.


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