Football

Start was great

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
ZAMBIA on Sunday beat Uganda in such an emphatic manner that I am tempted to declare them favourites at this year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN).

That is my emotional side, especially having reflected that blood is thicker than water. But my professional judgement tells me its early days yet and totally premature to reasonably predict the winner.
But I will tell you that Wedson Nyirenda’s boys were cruelly clinical in that 3-1 annihilation of the Uganda Cranes.
Though I doubt you missed the encounter, it would not hurt to remind you that striker Lazarus Kambole, midfielder Augustine Mulenga and defender Fackson Kapumbu contributed a goal each for Zambia to register the 20th win over Uganda since 1963.
Uganda have managed 11 wins while six matches have ended in draws, statistics that weighed heavily in favour of Zambia even before kick-off.
Clad in a KoPa kit that the Football Association of Zambia has designed, Kambole put in a good shift on his Chipolopolo debut, and when all was said and done, he was voted man-of-the-match.
Prior to Sunday’s goal, Kambole netted once in the 5-2 win over Division One Zone One side Circuit City and was on target in the 3-1 win over South African top side Orlando Pirates in a friendly in Johannesburg last Wednesday.
When a team records a victory that is as sweet as the one against Uganda, there is temptation to believe they are invincible. Polluting the mind with such thought would be a disaster.
The fact is that the general performance was not top drawer; the midfield looked lethargic sometimes while the left side of the defence was an express lane for the Ugandans. I have no problems with the strike force if Wada picks the right players. I mean Kambole, Friday Samu, Mulenga and the man they call Alteza – Ernest Mbewe.
There are areas that need polishing up before we play against Ivory Coast tomorrow. Should we edge past Ivory Coast, which we did in 2009 in Abidjan, we will be guaranteed, essentially, a place in the elimination stage.
Ivory Coast will be eager to revenge for the 3-0 loss to Zambia in the CHAN opening match in Abidjan in 2009.
Zambia again denied the Elephants led by Didier Drogba the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2012 with an 8-7 victory on penalties after a goalless draw in 120 minutes in Libreville, Gabon.
The CHAN offers a platform for the players to redeem the country’s football prowess after missing the Africa Cup of Nations held in Gabon last year and failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Winning the CHAN will at least be a consolation for missing out on the 2018 Russia World Cup, especially for those that set their targets lowly.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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