Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Tactical Analysis: How the Chipolopolo failed to fire against Sudan

Just like two Years ago, Zambia was bundled out of the CHAN tournament at the Quarter final stage, a campaign that promised much from the qualifiers has ended up with nothing but just one extra game after the group stages.

Going into the tournament, despite the changes in personnel of those that had played key roles in qualifiers there was still enough in the team to go all the way to the final 90+ minutes of the last match at the tournament especially that the composition had 8 players that played ‘A’ grade matches for Zambia in the World and Africa Cup qualifiers.

Here is how the exit unfolded.


As was in the group stage games, Zambia adopted the Zonal Marking system in general match progression and at set pieces.

In the heart of defense, debutant John Mwangeni was the main marker on their main striker with Ziyo Tembo providing cover and any of the 2 full backs providing balance as and when required.

The defenders accounted for themselves well in most patches but when it mattered most, they were taken to the cleaners. Many will remember Sudan goal keeper Akram for saving Chris Katongo’s penalty in the Quarter finals of the 2012 Afcon and he will still linger on in their memories as he picked out a striker with a long launch from the back who flicked it on to striker Safeldein who skinned John Mwangeni and  sliding past him almost effortlessly to pass the ball into the net under Toaster Nsabata’s feet.

Ziyo would have been much closer considering there was only one Sudanese striker in the Box.

The centre back pairing seemed not to be in sync with communication visibly poor.

Realising the Sudanese were going to employ the long ball tactic, Zambia could have chosen to do one all possibly all of the following;

1. Prevent the long ball upfront

2. Win the second ball after a Knock Down


Poor by any standard. From the first game, we demonstrated that our strength was in the wingers and we relied on their industry to create going forward.

Sudan did their home work correctly and it ripped benefits by doing the following;

1. They shut down the supply to the wide areas in their own half.

2. Stationed their full backs in their sockets and had wingers going with Ernest Mbewe and Augustine Mulenga everywhere so our wingers didn’t have chance on the ball.

3. Shut down channels for possible through balls.

Zambia offered little going forward as the attack strategy was paralised.

Wing play couldn’t work and similarly route one football couldn’t work due to the Sudanese aerial advantage.

The game was calling for at least one creative ball carrier to push the team up and negotiate the crowded central areas and the ably protected goal scoring area.

Additionally, the ball circulation should have been more quicker and crisp to knock them out of their defensively sockets and force them into running around.

The Chipolopolo passing was erratic and exposed the lack of variety.

Clearly Zambia did not have an alternative approach and couldn’t offer anything else apart from what the opponents already knew.


Players are not Robots and in games of high stakes must be willing to give a little more in terms of invention and extra effort.

Similarly they ought to continue believing and do what it takes.

It’s in games like that were others have gone down in history books by taking it a notch higher and throwing caution to the wind.


What worked before couldn’t work on the night. This was clearly from as early as first quarter of an hour into the game but his side didn’t show much to try and change the status quo at that time.

Go to the poll section to make your opinion known on whether Wada Wada is the right man for the Chipolopolo job

Together with the experienced panel of assistants, the famous ‘PLAN B’ should have been summoned be it with personnel or approach.

Against a team that predominantly had one centre forward, the team could have sacrificed much more to aid the ambition going forward by introducing attack minded players earlier when we had a game to chase.

The problem was not the strikers, it was creation of chances and that should have been taken care of before changing striking options. The gun didn’t have safety on, it was the bullets that were lacking.

Losing at the Quarter final stages may be bitter but the same players that got us there were still good enough to take us further and talk of those that were not there is unappreciative of those whose excursions got us this far.

All Factors considered, the team had a poor day at the office and we lost it due to Technical application inefficiency and Tactical nous deficiencies.

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  1. Interesting Analysis Mr. Malambo. I actually agree with your assessment. I think Wadda would have done well to switch Augustine Mulenga to a more central role in the hole and have him drift from wing to wing since he has ability to take on defenders.

    His central location would have allowed him to get into more dangerous positions and would have also allowed Zambia to overwork the Sudanese left back with Mbewe stretching that wing out with his running.

    Wadda I think still needs to be able to read games and that is something he failed to do in this case.

    • Typical African emotional and thinks with the thumbs please give me ten reasons plus statistics why Wada should be fired if Klopp who lost to Swansea has not been fired. You can not measure the performance of a Coach using one game that is foolish and poor leadership.
      I do not support Wada but I am trying to be logical here, please furnish me with concrete reasons backed by statistics.

  2. I agree with you Mr Malambo.John Mwangeni’s mistake should not be main reason to hang our excuse for our failed progress in that tournament, we need a player who would carry the team on his shoulders and Augustine Mulenga did not show that character in that game…

  3. Clearly ngonga and Siwimba not playing had an effect. Their presence allows the team to may be more offensive and allowed A mulenga and Mbewe more support.
    But what this result does show is that there was little quality on the bench. Mwengani had a torrid time- this was his first match.
    I’d like to disagree with the observations.
    When we win all is fine , when we lose all hell breaks loose.

    • Well said brother. Depth was a big problem, some friendly matches were ups have really helped identify the gaps in ability

  4. Where is the poll I register my NO? Wada must go, we can’t have a coach with plan a only. Lets be patriotic and call a spade and not a big spoon.. Oh I miss brother John.

    • I do not agree with these emotional decisions Wada must be given time, most of you supporters are clueless and I know your alternative is a white expatriate Coach…..AFRICA TWASEBANA TUKALUBUKA LILALI?

  5. Perfect Analysis Mr. Malambo, Lets Not Run From The Fact That Our Zambian Coaches Ar Not Tacticians. Wada Went With A full Set Of Players But He Did Not Have A Plan B For Them

    • Let us not heap everything onto the Coach as He needs help from FAZ with friendlies and the right technical bench to help him analyze each opponent so as to formalise/come up with a feasible game plan.
      There is a lot to be done with our national team, this must start with clubs in ensuring that we avail most of our local players to more game time by introducing quotas.
      We must also encourage excellently qualified Coaches in our local league to equip our players technically.

    • Why give reasons and I will understand If I can remember FAZ set a target of Quarter Finals so why cry foul He reached the target He did not fail!

    • Forget those are rascals without respect I support Wada the situation is similar with what Clifford Mulenga did in 2012 and Harve Renard chased him.

      • Eish Truth. I admire how you are trying to respond to the guys. You know how things get when Zambia loses, even Herve Renard was called all sorts of names before we won in 2012.

        I think a quarter final finish is respectable and people have already forgotten that the team negotiated some pretty good teams in the opening stages.

        • Thumbs up “Positive thinking” You and I have witnessed a lot on this blog both tears of joy and anguish. At least when I see people like you and abena Big steve, Sly etc comment with venom I will keep quiet but most of these people just rumble without reason.
          I am not supporting Wada but all I am saying is let us be realistic and logical when we criticize like the article Stephen Phiri wrote on Daily Mail today it is realistic and logical.

          • No you’re absolutely right in what you are saying. There needs to be reasonable discussion on whether Wadda is best for the team, but it needs to be looked at as a whole. This idea of one loss determining the fate of a coach is not how we need to approach things. I would warn FAZ on the same, because they also look like they react emotionally without giving due diligence. FAZ needs to own the failure to fully prepare this team and should be sitting down with Wadda in trying to figure out what he needs to be ready for the next set of challenges. That’s how leadership works.

            I will need to find this article by Stephen Phiri.


    Another tournament, another heartbreak

    Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
    YOU are possibly as sick and tired as I am listening to excuses of our national team’s failure at international tournaments in the recent past.

    We cannot qualify for the World Cup; we cannot make it to the Africa Cup and cannot go past the preliminary stage despite hosting the Under-20 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Championship.
    When you add the fact that we failed to go past the quarter-finals at the African Nations Championship currently underway in Morocco, then you get the reason why I am about to shed a tear.
    It’s even more worrying when you consider the teams we are losing to, such as Sudan and others in that low class. Is it not an insult to our pedigree and history to be eliminated by Sudan?
    Despite football being dynamic in the recent past, Zambia has retained a respectable place in the upper zones and should never give in to well-established minnows like Sudan.
    I watched with a lot of pain as Sudan ran ragged against us, literally twisting our defenders in a match we should have lost by a bigger margin had football been a scientific sport. It could have been worse than 1-0.
    I am reluctant to blame coach Wedson Nyirenda for the loss, but I know he could have done better in his team selection in central defence instead of tweaking it 50 percent.
    It was not a game for upstarts (fill in the blanks). He should have used the tried and tested guys at the back. I am not a coach and I cannot pretend to be one, but my eyes tell me that Kondwani Mtonga or Donashano Malama could have played in defence instead of greenhorns.
    The problem with our team is bigger than Nyirenda. What we saw in Morocco is a result of many factors and I will not join everybody and his dog blaming our exit on a player.
    Have we all forgotten that our team camped in Mongu? Do we remember that the Chipolopolo never had a friendly game worth the name prior to the tournament in Morocco?
    Did we all believe that playing Circuit City, or something like that, was good enough for a team preparing for glory at an international competition?
    Did I hear someone say we played Orlando Pirates?
    So, if we did not have quality friendlies, where did we expect Nyirenda to better understand his players and formations? Good preparations mean a tournament half won.
    For record’s sake, Zambia faced top South African sides and some national teams prior to winning the maiden Africa Cup title in Libreville in 2012.
    If we do not change the way we do things, we should not expect good results.
    [email protected], [email protected]

  7. We don’t have Coach ladies and gentlemen. THAT’S THE HONEST TRUTH. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. Wedson Nyirenda has a lot to learn to take the team at a higher level.

  8. Chipolopolo seems to think highly of itself. Its a small team that don’t belong to the big level. Qtr final is a great achievement. Finals belong to the big teams in Africa and Zambia don’t belong there.

  9. faz should the to blame.in first place ,there were no quality friendlies.how u expect good couch analysise a team looking at the magnitude of the tournament

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