From ELIAS CHIPEPO
At Jeju World Cup Stadium
Zambia 3 Germany 3 (4-3 extra time) –
BESTON Chambeshi was left valuing the result over a topsy-turvy performance as his boys pulled off yet another great escape to earn a historic quarter-finals berth at the on-going FIFA Under-20 World Cup championships here, having squandered a 3-1 lead with just three minutes to go.
Shemmy Mayembe, wearing the supposedly unlucky number 13 jersey, provided the way out of what would have been a catastrophic capitulation had Zambia lost and gone out of the competition, scoring the extra-time winner in the 107th minute.
After Germany had drawn first blood at the end of a rather dour first half, Emmanuel Banda, got them back on level terms and further goals from Fashion Sakala and Enock Mwepu put Zambia in control until three minutes to the end when the former champions stormed back into the game with two quick-fire goals of their own to take the tie into extra-time.
“Unfortunately our plan didn’t work but I am happy how the players responded in the second half scoring three goals. And that is not easy when you play a team like Germany that also wants to win. But our tactical approach won us the game,” he said.
There will be many prepared to debate him on the tactical aspect as, once again, poor defending left the team chasing a game that will have led to many fans reaching for their blood pressure drugs as the match turned into another roller-coaster ride.
With the 4-0 drubbing suffered by Zambia at the hands of Germany during the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games here, still fresh in his memory, yesterday’s match provided the perfect opportunity for Chambeshi, who played in that defeat, to lead this promising generation to victory and revenge.
It was the Germans, though, who scored first, with a thunderous 37th minute free-kick taken by Philipp Ochs going in via the underside, leaving goalie Mangani Banda beaten all ends up.
Zambia, who came into this game as group winners, were struggling to hit their swash-buckling stride, not able to muster a single attempt on goal despite the unremitting terrace support from South Korean fans led by Zambia Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo.
The second half saw Chambeshi send on Edward Chilufya for Musonda Siame as he searched for the equaliser and the persistence of the African champions finally paid off as Emmanuel Banda hammered home the equaliser in the 49th minute from an Edward Chilufya cross which had deflected off Enock Mwepu’s failed bicycle kick.
You could have bet on Fashion Sakala getting in on the act and he did, making it 2-1 in the 68th minute with a thunder strike that flashed past goalie Svend Brodersen.
On 86 minutes, Paston Daka instigated another lightning counter-attack that found Mwepu inside the box for the midfielder to cleverly nut-meg the exposed Brodersen to make it 3-1.
Any celebrations proved rather premature as the Germans fought back, Suat Serdar reducing the deficit with a cheeky back-heel finish past Mangani.
Zambia were still reeling when the Germans made it 3-3 in the fourth minute of extra time through substitute Jonas Arweiler.
Credit for Germany’s comeback would be attributed to substitute Malcom Bandu’s influence after his introduction for Emmanuel Iyoha saw him control the midfield as Zambian players ceded the edge.
To his credit, Chambeshi made the bold decision of removing people’s favourite Fashion Sakala for Conlyde Luchanga in 102 minute in a massive gamble that just had to pay off.
It did, for it was Luchanga’s flick-on that set up Mayembe for the extra-time winner that touched off wild celebrations among the players, celebrations that reverberated all the way back to almost every home and office in Zambia.
It looks like Chambeshi’s boys are never more dangerous than when they have to chase a game…