THOUSANDS of Zambian fans were yesterday left disappointed at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola after the Chipolopolo were held to a goalless home draw by Mozambique in the opening 2015 Morocco Africa Cup of Nations Group F qualifier.
“A win would have been the best but also not losing is good. We have enough man power to take us to AFCON 2015,” a confident Zambia coach Honour Janza said in a post-match interview.
“How you start does not matter at times but how you finish.”
His opposite, Joao Chissano, who plays Niger at home on Wednesday, was delighted to have picked his first point against Zambia, which he never did during his playing career for the Mambas.
“Zambia is a good side and they pushed us back and this forced us to play in defence,” Chissano said.
Zambia play Cape Verde on Wednesday in Praia.
Chisamba’s magic foot work lit up the game as early as the fifth minute when he launched Zambia’s attack and a minute later, Rainford Kalaba failed to control a cross from skipper Christopher Katongo as the Zambians invaded Mozambique.
As Zambia tried to find a move to penetrate a well-organised Mozambique defence, Kalaba got the first shot at goal on nine minutes – the initial meaningful attack Zambia had made in the early moments of the match.
Zambia kept on probing but Mozambique also responded with counter-attacks with Sonito lashing his shot wide in the 10th minute.
But two minutes later, Dominiques Pelembe found Josimar with a split pass but the latter disappointingly shot wide.
Janza started with three attackers – Katongo, Kalaba on the wings while Jacob Mulenga was the centre man with Stoppila Sunzu, Nyambe Mulenga, Emmanuel Mbola and Kabaso Chongo at the back.
As the game progressed, Zambia managed to break down the resilient Mozambique defence but both shots in quick succession from Kalaba and Jacob Mulenga in the 40th minute were well dealt with by goalkeeper Ricardo Campos.
Campos again denied Mulenga from close range in the 45th minute before Singuluma watched his shot blocked much to the frustration of the Chipolopolo.
In the second half, it was Chisamba who put Zambia in the front gear after some tricky play in the Mozambique half but blasted the ball high in the 55th minute.
Janza substituted Mulenga and Katongo for Collins Mbesuma and Mukuka Mulenga, respectively, but this gamble failed to yield any goals before play was temporarily halted following the release of a teargas that chocked the players, including Vice-President Guy Scott.
Emmanuel Mbola was lucky to have completed the match when he pulled down Dominiques in the box in an incident that did not catch the eye of referee Thiery Nkurunziza.
Even the late introduction of Fwayo Tembo for Given Singuluma failed to break the stalemate.
Mozambique had a last-minute opportunity when goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene denied Helder Pelembe, his teammate at Mamelodi Sundowns, from close range.
Zambia – 16 Kennedy Mwene, 12 Kabaso Chongo, 18 Emmanuel Mbola, 5 Nyambe Mulenga, 13 Stoppila Sunzu, 19 Nathan Sinkala, 11 Christopher Katongo (66’ Mukuka Mulenga), 3 Chisamba Lungu, 15Given Singuluma (85’ Fwayo Tembo), 17 Rainford Kalaba, 7 Jacob Mulenga (58’ Collins Mbesuma)
Mozambique – 12 Ricardo Campos, 18 Dario Khan, 3 Zainadine, 17 Mexer, 16 Mario, 2 Hagy Momed, 4 Simao, 7 Dominiques Pelembe, 8 Josimar (90’ Clesio), 14 Kito, 10 Sonito (84’ Helder Pelembe).
Zambia Daily Mail