Zambia’s hopes of reaching the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final tournament were dashed following a 3-2 defeat to Group E leaders Guinea Bissau, a result which eliminated them from automatic qualification, on Saturday.
Guinea Bissau took an early lead after Zezinho Lopes converted a penalty in the 15th minute following a foul inside the box by Stopilla on Fredrico Mendy.
Collins Mbesuma equalised ten minutes later but Mendy pounced on 35 minutes to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at the break.
The Chipolopolo got back on level terms in the early stages of the second half as Christopher Katongo capitalised to head home at the far post following a corner delivered by Mbesuma.
The hosts were assured of maximum points courtesy of a stoppage-time goal by substitute Brito who slotted past Mweene after Boyd Mkandawire’s clearing header fell kindly in his path.
Following the defeat, Lwandamina’s men on 6 points can not usurp Guinea Bissau who moved to 10 points, but have an outside chance of qualifying as one of the two best placed runners-up, a prospect which is out of their hands.
Zambia can only finish on nine points if they defeat already eliminated Kenya (1 point) in September and hope that results in matches from other groups go their way, only on condition that Kenya defeat Congo (6 points) on Sunday.
A win for Congo against Kenya will end Zambia’s chances of qualifying to Gabon. Congo can qualify top of the group if they defeat Kenya on Sunday as well as Guinea Bissau in September.
However, a clear picture for the best placed runners-up will emerge on Sunday when the rest of the matches will be played except for the one between Benin and Equatorial Guinea which has been postponed to June 12.
Gabon (hosts), Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco and Senegal have confirmed their qualification.