ROBINSON KUNDA, Lusaka
SOUTH AFRICA 2 ZAMBIA 2
MIDFIELDER Augustine Mulenga’s strike in added time yesterday earned Zambia a vital draw with ten-man South Africa in the Kenya 2018 African Nations
Championship (CHAN) final round first leg at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda praised his boys for showing determination.
“South Africa played well and threw everything on us. They were good on set pieces and scored the goals but we came back breathing fire in the second-half,” Nyirenda said.
A goalless draw in Saturday’s return leg in Ndola will see Zambia qualifying for the CHAN finals.
An under-strength South African side scored two goals through Gift Motupa and skipper Mario Booysen but Zambia staged a comeback in the second-half through Power Dynamos striker Martin Phiri and Mulenga of Zanaco.
The game started on a fast pace and Ernest Mbewe shot wide on five minutes after Mulenga put him through.
South Africa took the lead on 31 minutes when Motupa slotted home from close range after goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata had come out of his line to clear Ryan Moon’s corner but he missed the ball.
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter substituted Sibusiso Khumalo for Wiseman Meyiwa in a bid to consolidate the lead.
The hosts doubled the lead in the 50th minute when Booysen capitalised on a defensive lapse.
John Ching’andu cleared Motupa’s shot but the ball hit the upright and the rebound found Booysen, who made no mistake.
Immediately, Nyirenda made two tactical changes removing Mbewe for Mike Katiba and Ching’andu for Martin Phiri.
Phiri pulled one back after beating ball-watching South African defenders to head in a Jackson Chirwa pass on 59 minutes.
South Africa suffered a setback on 88 minutes when defender Tercious Malepe earned a second yellow card for hacking Chirwa.
Mulenga broke South African hearts after pouncing on a loose ball and firing a cracker into the top corner beating goalkeeper Bruce Mbvuma.
“It’s a massive disappointment for the players, they put up a credible performance but football is not fair sometimes,” South Africa coach Stuart Baxter said.