STEPHEN PHIRI, Jeju ZAMBIA 4 GERMANY 3
ZAMBIA yesterday upstaged Germany through defender Shemmy Mayembe’s goal to decide a thrilling encounter in extra time and take the African champions to their maiden FIFA Under-20 World Cup quarter-finals.
The Zesco United teenager blasted in with his right in the 106th minute after standout performer Enock Mwepu and substitute Conlyde Luchanga combined to set for him.
It was Mayembe’s first goal for the under-20 national team, but one whose significance goes back in history to erase memories of Zambia’s 0-4 loss to then West Germany at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The players sank to their knees and cuddled in one embrace in celebrating their passage to the quarter-finals after a scare that saw them lose a two-goal advantage right at the death.
Beston Chambeshi’s boys rallied from a goal down – as has been the story of the tournament – to lead 3-1 until the 90th minute when Germany scored two quick-fire goals to drag the match into extra time.
The coach has seen it all in his illustrious football career but perhaps nothing as glossed it as much as Mayembe’s clincher.
“I have gone through a lot as a footballer and I want to be a winner. It’s good for me. It is good for the nation. We have a vision to take Zambian football forward,” said Chambeshi.
Although he had earlier refused to link yesterday’s encounter to the 1988 loss to Jurgen Klinsmann-led West Germany’s 4-0, he opened up yesterday as he believed the boys had exacted some measure of revenge.
Germany coach Guiido Streichsbier was gracious in defeat: “I wish Zambia success in the tournament. We played well in the first half, but Zambia played well in the second half and scored three goals.”
Chambeshi made two changes to the team that lost to Costa Rica, bringing back suspended Solomon Sakala and Musonda Siame for Muchindu Muchindu and Edward Chilufya, respectively.
Off from the blocks, the Germans were better through their quick enterprising play that easily prised Zambia’s defence and exposed goalkeeper Mangani Banda more than once in the opening minutes.
It was not long before they found the chink in the armour of the Zambian defence through Philipp Ochs’ classic free-kick that hit the crossbar and rolled into the net with Banda beaten on 36 minutes.
Zambia had at this point played second fiddle until Chambeshi’s tactical masterstroke that saw him rest Siame for regular Edward Chilufya at half-time.
Portugal-based midfielder Emmanuel Banda equalised on 49 minutes when he blasted in after Mwepu’s scorpion kick attempt failed.
Fashion Sakala, who had a quiet match until the 67th minute, rose to the occasion with his trademark goal full of oomph.
Mwepu threaded the ball to the Russia-based striker who foraged into the area and thundered the ball past goalkeeper Svend Brodersen.
There was no looking – seemingly – as Mwepu added the third after benefiting from a Patson Daka pass on 85 minutes. In a swift counter-attack, Mwepu found himself played through in front of goal and he placed with abundant ease.
At a time Zambia needed some good game management, they still searched for a goal but were caught in the 90th minute through a cheeky Suat Serdar back heel.
Fired up, the Germans got the equaliser in the last second of added time when substitute Jonas Arweiler wheeled the ball in as the defence reeled.
Chambeshi withdrew a sobbing Fashion for Luchanga in the 101st minute but thankfully the tears turned into joyous ones when Mayembe got the decider with five minutes on the clock.
The pitch was divided into two extremes – one of joy and the other of inconsolable Germans.
Zambia shift camp to Suwon today ahead of the quarter-final clash on Monday either against France or Italy.