AUGUSTINE MUKOKA, Jeju, South Korea
ZAMBIA on Sunday started the campaign at the 2017 FIFA South Korea World Cup on a promising note when they edged much fancied Portugal 2-1 in a Group C match at Jeju World Cup Stadium.
The under-20 national team have three points at par with Iran, who beat Costa Rica 1-0, but the young Chipolopolo have a better goal aggregate.
A win over Iran tomorrow will see Zambia advancing to the round of 16.
All the players put in a good shift on Sunday.
Mangani Banda 8.5/10: The Zanaco goalkeeper was in fine shape. Banda conceded a goal largely because his defenders were flat footed and failed to clear in time when he pulled a brilliant save that Portugal’s Helder pounced on to reduce the arrears one minute into added final time.
He was called to duty on more than three occasions and denied strikers Xadas and Goncalves to dent his sheet. Had it not been for conceding the goal, Mangani could pass for an A+ display.
Prosper Chilufya 6/10 : On his day, Chiluya could have done better to reduce on the number of dangerous crosses that came off the left wing. Chiluya, however, rose to the occasion and blocked a goal bound effort by the Portuguese on 36 minutes.
Shemmy Mayembe 6/10 : He looked a little unsettled. His runs were rather mistimed making his central defence work extra shifts to cover his wing. The Zesco United star had an average outing with a lot of room to improve.
Moses Nyondo 7.5/10: With a midfield that was rather porous and allowed opponents free space, Moses Nyondo stood firm in his partnership with the captain. A minute from half time, he was called to duty when he cleared off the line with goalkeeper Mangani well beaten.
Solomon Sakala 7/10: The captain was fantastic and was the only player that was shown yellow in the match. Under pressure, Sakala tripped Andre Bibeiro on 35 minutes into the game.
Boyd Musonda: The Zanaco midfielder could not keep up with the Portuguese and exposed the team’s flaws. Portugal dominated play in midfield, and Musonda’s lackluster passes, lack of composure did not help matters. 5.5
Edward Chilufya 8.5/10: Kasama United power ranger was one of the four strikers coach Beston Chambeshi three in the mix. He was one of the players who took a bit of time to settle but his foresight and positioning was key to the team’s success.
When Enock Mwepu unleashed one of his three crackers, Chilufya was happily in position to finish off and got Zambia going with a 51 st
Enock Mwepu 8.5/10: He is called “Computer” for a reason. While his partner in the middle of the pack did not produce a steller show, Mwepu was outstanding engineering Zambia’s attack.
His deft cross to Patson Daka, who laid a smart pass for Luchanga was Zambia’s first sure chance in the first half.
It was Mwepu who struck hard at Portugal’s Diego Costa to spill in Chilufya’s way for the opener. The towering John Lungu type of midfielder won most of the balls for Zambia in midfield.
Conlyde Luchanga 6.5/10: Luchanga lasted 63 minutes on the pitch and was designated a key role that he could have handled better. Save for his first half shot, he did not provide enough firepower at the heart of attack. His fireworks in training may not have been good enough on match day.
Fashion Sakala 9/10: If late Kelvin ‘Malaza’ Mutale would get any comparison, Fashion’s composure comes close to the class of 93’.
The Spartak Moscow forward tormented the Portuguese at every turn he was in possession. He used power, skill and foresight to inspire Zambia to a vital victory.
The former Zanaco pointman was involved in the opening goal when he dazzled the Portuguese on the left before releasing a neat pass to Mwepu whose resultant cracker rebounded into Chilufya’s way for the opener.
A minute before he scored the second goal, he struck from outside the box, but was denied by the Portuguese goalkeeper. He was no doubt Zambia’s best performer.
Patson Daka 5/10: Zambia’s star striker was out marked. Twice tripped in the first 30 minutes, it turned out he was a marked man and would not enjoy any space in the match.
He was forced out after a tearing in the lower lip three minutes from time.
Emmanuel Banda 7/10: He came on for injured Daka. He stabilised the midfield giving Mwepu and Musonda enough cover. He did not shy away from attempting one of his trademark strikes at goal, but was denied.
Musonda Siame: The Kafue Celtics player was a replacement for Luchanga on 63 minutes. He had an opportunity to go forward and stamp his authority but took long to stabilise and was a bit clumsy. Not rated.
Beston Chambeshi 8/10: Getting a win in the opening match was an important way to start the competition for the Africa Cup winning trainer. However, starting with four strikers, Fashion, Luchanga, Daka and Chilufya may not have been the best strategy.
And it clearly showed in the first half in the disconnection it created in midfield.
Zambia were outplayed because Mwepu and Musonda were outnumbered.
Credit to Chambeshi, he realised the imbalance and started switching Daka and Fashion while Chilufya dropped a little deeper than usual.