IT was a game that DR Congo would have easily won the match against Zambia in their opening Group F fixture at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Ivory Coast but thanks to their fluffing strikers and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) coming to the aid of the flat Chipolopolo.
The match was the Chipolopolo first game back at AFCON following an eight-year hiatus from the tournament that saw them miss their last three editions of Africa’s premier football championship.
Thus expectations were high for Zambia to get a win especially because of their potent attacking force led by Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala and Lameck Banda whose goals helped propel Chipolopolo to AFCON qualification.
Yet this was one match that saw the tactic implored by Avram Grant almost backfiring as Congo never relented and continued pressuring Zambia but thankfully for the 2012 champions, they managed to hold on to a precious point going into the next game against Tanzania.
It was a match that undoubtedly left fans unsure about the Chipolopolo’s prospects in this competition going forward especially with matches against Tanzania and Morocco to follow in which the team would need atleast a win and a draw to have a chance into the next round.
Without dwelling on the result against Congo, Grant has moved on and is now plotting on how best to collect three points off Tanzania which should be somewhat some good news ahead of that big match against Morocco.
This is a team, back at the AFCON after missing three editions, is in progress and needs a lot of work to be done to be able to challenge for the continental title.
Grant needs to seriously relook the plan he had against Congo because it did not work save for the team collecting a point. The defenders were the most overworked players in the team with kingpin Stoppila Sunzu making crucial saves including one on the line to keep the Chipolopolo into the game.
Keeper Lawrence Mulenga had a good game including Frankie and Tindi Mwape as Roderick Kabwe put in a decent shift though many at times was found wanting while Kelvin Kapumbu was poor in the midfield and that could have contributed to Emmanuel Banda having a poor game and failed to produce those needed passes upfront same with skipper Lubambo Musonda who failed to tick on the wing.
One wonders why Lameck Banda was not introduced early in the match as his dribbling skills would have maybe helped the team break the Congolese side while Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala found the going tough against the big, strong defenders.
It would be therefore important for Grant and his technical bench to revisit the match and work on the many mistakes noted in that match and come up with a better tactic to win them the match against Tanzania and reduce the pressure in the final match where we do not need calculators to maths our way into the knockout stage.
This is one competition that has produced shocks and Zambia should not underrate Tanzania just because of their 3-0 loss to Morocco-remember they had to endure a man less against a gifted Moroccan side.
I still feel we have the best talent assembled by Grant and a team capable of going as far as quarter finals at least but that would require a lot from the players mostly dotted around Europe for the team to remain in the competition.
Grant needs to come up with a better game plan unlike that 4-5-1 he came up against Congo as it clearly failed to work and needs to act fast in as far as substitutions are concerned because some players were worn out but surprisingly played the entire 90 plus minutes.
Fans deserve better against Tanzania this Sunday as there is still a lot to play, and hope for the team to get the needed result and advance from the group.
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