Zambia salvage AFCON dream
Published On October 16, 2014 » 2553 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Football, Sports
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• ZAMBIA midfielder Bruce Musakanya (left) races ahead of Niger’s Dankwae Kofi  as Souley Mahamadou (jersey) closes in during last evening’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group F qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. Zambia won 3-0. Picture by JEAN MANDELA

• ZAMBIA midfielder Bruce Musakanya (left) races ahead of Niger’s Dankwae Kofi as Souley Mahamadou (jersey) closes in during last evening’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group F qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. Zambia won 3-0. Picture by JEAN MANDELA

By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE  At Levy Mwanawasa Stadium –
Zambia 3 Niger 0
ZAMBIA last evening rekindled the hopes of qualifying to the Morocco 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals, thanks to a convincing display in Ndola that downed Niger in an exciting Group F encounter.
The win lifted the Chipolopolo into second position on the log on five points, four adrift leaders Cape Verde who edged Mozambique 1-0 in the other match last night. Zambia and Mozambique are tied on five points but the Chipolopolo are second by virtue of having a better goal difference.
It was the first competitive victory for coach Honour Janza since taking charge of the Chipolopolo in August.
Janza graciously thanked Zambians for their support and patience.
“I would like to thank Zambians for the patience and support. Zambians have been very supportive and patient despite the team not winning in the first three games,” Janza said during a post-match Press conference.
Having started the qualifiers on a shaky note, Zambia needed to win this particular encounter to stay in contention for a spot at the Morocco finals and the team lived up to expectations as they ran rampage to break the Menas with three second half goals.
Janza retained his faith in striker Emmanuel Mayuka, who had been warming the bench for the most part of the qualifiers and the Southampton player did not disappoint as he produced an outstanding performance upfront.
A three-goal blitz from Rainford Kalaba, Mayuka and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene in a space of 20 minutes ensured Zambia got back in the race for a place at the 2015 AFCON finals.
Janza opted to bring in Bruce Musakanya, and Charles Zulu on the wings with Donashano Malama deployed to the right back while Mayuka led the attack as Jacob Mulenga was relegated to the bench.
With a 4-5-1 formation in the first half, the game did not gather pace and both teams created few scoring opportunities with the best chance for the Chipolopolo coming in the second minute through Mayuka, who fired wide form a Kalaba delivery on the right flank.
The return of Stoppila Sunzu, who captained the side, saw the Chipolopolo put up a solid shield in defence to keep Niger’s danger man Moussa Mazzou silent throughout the game.
Mazzou only managed a 31st minute volley that flew way over the bar with Mweene having little to deal with in the first stanza.
Zulu, the Under-20 star, struggled to rediscover his rhythm on the right wing and he was replaced by Chisamba Lungu on 35 minutes as the game went into half time goalless.
The Chipolopolo came in full force after restart as they mounted pressure on the visitors and Kalaba opened the floodgates in the 58th minute when he headed in Musakanya’s cross, beating Daouda Kassaly after Given Singuluma had missed a dummy.
Kalaba’s goal unlocked Niger’s defence as the West Africans got out of the shells to push for an equaliser.
Mayuka doubled the lead in the 73rd minute when he capitalised on Ouwo Moussa’s failure to clear the ball from danger to fire home with precision, much to the amusement of home fans.
This was Mayuka’s first goal for Zambia in over two years, having last scored in the Chipolopolo’s 1-0 win over Ghana in the semi-finals of the 2012 AFCON finals.
With 20 minutes before time, Zambia enjoyed lengthy possession as a deflated Niger side resorted to long balls hoping to catch the Chipolopolo on counter attacks but the
Sunzu-marshalled defence was alert to deal with any danger.
Burkina Faso referee, Juste Zio awarded the Chipolopolo a penalty after Singuluma was fouled in the box by Salamoun Mahamadou in the 87th minute and Mweene stepped up to convert the spot kick, sending Kassaly the wrong direction.
Niger coach, Gernot Rohr conceded defeat, saying the game was difficult for the Menas and the Chipolopolo deservedly got the result.

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