Football Sport

Zambia storm AfCON finals

… Chipolopolo beat Mozambique in qualifier
DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO, Zimpeto Stadium, Maputo
STRIKER Given Singuluma’s mid-range volley and Kennedy Mweene’s penalty save against Mozambique helped Zambia qualify for the 2015 Equatorial Guinea Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Zambia qualify as the second best team in Group F with eight points, three better than Mozambique.
“We have qualified because even if we lose on Wednesday, Mozambique can only go to eight points and we are better than them on head to head,” Football Association of Zambia president Kalusha Bwalya said.
The qualification is Zambia’s 17th appearance at the showpiece and the Chipolopolo were crowned African champions in 2012.
The action-packed match at a stadium filled to capacity saw Gabonese referee Eric Castane make dubious decisions – the first being the penalty against Zambia and the refusal to give the Chipolopolo a genuine claim in the dying embers.
It was a match of two halves with the first belonging to the hosts while Zambia controlled the second and made maximum use of it to collect the precious points.
Singuluma scored in the second half after Mozambique forward Elias Pelembe was denied from the spot-kick by Mweene, his club-mate at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Singuluma beat Mozambique goalkeeper Ricardo Campos with a superb volley in the 66th minute after latching onto a Rainford Kalaba header.
Gabonese referee Eric Castane awarded the Mambas a dubious penalty in the 59th minute after Emmanuel Mbola was adjudged to have handled.
Right- back Donashano Malama was the weakest link in the Chipolopolo rearguard while Bruce Musakanya also failed to replicate the performance he churned out against Niger at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on October 15.
Mweene parried Mambas skipper Dario Ivan Khan’s ferocious free- kick into Pelembe’s path but Nyambe Mulenga cleared the danger.
Zambia skipper Nathan Sinkala’s shot was saved by Ricardo in the 21st minute.
It was the introduction of Lubambo Musonda for Musakanya in the 49th minute that changed the tempo into the Chipolopolo’s favour as the Armenia-based midfielder dictated play.
Kalaba latched onto a loose ball and found Singuluma, who fired a shot past Campos.
In the dying minutes, coach Honour Janza substituted Christopher Munthali and Emmanuel Mayuka for Davies Nkausu and Evans Kangwa, respectively.
“We had in our mind that we needed to send President Sata with honour as he would have loved to see us qualify to the Africa Cup. May his soul rest in peace,” Janza said.
Mozambique coach Joao Chissano said: “My players lost concentration after missing a penalty.”
Meanwhile, BBC reports South Africa have booked their place at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Sudan 2-1 in their penultimate qualifier yesterday.
Thulani Serero opened the scoring seven minutes before the interval – the goal helping to settle an emotional South Africa team, who were playing for the first time since the death of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.
Mid-way through the second half, Tokelo Rantie struck South Africa’s second to give his side breathing space.
Sudan became the first side to score against South Africa in their last five Nations Cup matches when Salah Ibrahim pulled a goal back, but the group’s bottom club could not pull off a shock comeback.
In Group D, Cameroon overcame Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 to book their ticket, courtesy of Vincent Aboubakar’s strike on 71 minutes.
Group E leaders Ghana blew a chance to seal their spot at the January 17 to February 8 tournament as they suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Uganda.
The Black Stars had been fancied to pick up the points they needed but were undone by a goal from Savio Kabugo after only 10 minutes.
The SC Victoria University defender nodded in a well-taken Mike Sserunkuma corner kick to hand Ghana their first loss of the final qualifying phase and make for a very tight group.
And in Group B, Mali also missed an opportunity to qualify as they fell 2-0 to Malawi – a result that keeps alive the victors’ hopes of qualification.
Robert Ng’ambi and Esau Kanyenda scored the goals for Malawi, who are now level on points with their opponents, with only one game left to play.

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