Zambia topped Group D after collecting maximum points when they beat neighbours Zimbabwe in the group’s opening match at the African Nations Championship at Gisenyi Umuganda stadium on Tuesday.
Veteran midfielder Isaac Chansa paid his coach George Lwandamina’s confidence in him when he volleyed home the winner in the 58th minute to earn the Chipolopolo all the three points and the lead in Group D.
Zambia went into attack from the start and came close to taking an early lead from another veteran Chris Katongo, who after winning the battle upfront just headed wide in the second minute.
The inclusion of Chansa and Katongo, one of the heroes of Zambia’s 2012 African Cup of Nations title success in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, in the squad for the tournament had been heavily criticised by the Zambia media.
But Lwandamina defended the two players saying it was wise to balance the team.
“You cannot have a team of just youngsters, you need experience because of the interaction of players on and off the pitch,” Lwandamina said.
Cecafa champions Uganda battled to a 2-2 draw with Mali in their opening Group D tie at the African Nations Championships at Gisenyi’s Umuganda stadium on Tuesday.
In a bad-tempered game marked with bookings, Uganda opened the scoring in the 11th minute through defender Joseph Ochaya when he rose to head home a well taken free kick from hard-working skipper Farouk Miya.
But Mali bounced back when Sedou Keita levelled 13 minutes later with a thunderous left footer.
Uganda were awarded a penalty in the 40th minute when Erisa Sekisambu was brought down in the box and taking the resultant kick Miya put the Cranes 2-1 ahead into the break.
But it was not good news for Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic’s side, already without suspended midfielder Ivan Ntege and Hassan Wasswa lost both Miya and goalkeeper Ismail Watenga through injury.
Two other players Robert Sentongo and Richard Kassaga were booked.