Football Sport

Stylish Fashion et al bury Mali 6 feet under

MALI goalkeeper Samuel Diarra watches Zambia striker Fashion Sakala’s scorcher hit the net during the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations Group A match at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Wednesday night. Zambia won 6-1. PICTURE: COLLINS KALENGA

ROBINSON KUNDA, Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
THE Zambia under-20 national team on Wednesday night put up a five-star performance to end Mali’s dominance with an emphatic 6-1 victory in the Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations Group A match at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
It was a flawless performance by the Junior Chipolopolo on a day when most fans were expecting a tough encounter against the West Africans who previously had an edge over Zambia.
The players fought for every ball, defended and attacked as a team, perhaps the best performance by a Zambian team in many years.
Coach Beston Chambeshi, a member of the Nkana Invincibles of 1982, did his homework by starting with midfielder Emmanuel Banda ahead of Conlyde Luchanga.
All departments functioned well except the backline which at times allowed Malian strikers such as Boubacar Traore to test Zambia goalkeeper Mangani Banda.
The goal that Mali scored through Abdour Karim was as a result of loose marking but a tigerish response coupled with ruthless finishing catapulted Zambia to the summit of Group 1 into the semi-finals. More importantly, the team qualified for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in South Korea, where Zambia’s name is still etched, in bold.
It’s difficult to single out any outstanding player but midfielders Fashion Sakala, Edward Chilufya and Emmanuel Banda were above the rest. Enock “Computer” Mwepu provided depth in attack while Boyd Musonda was the solid rock most may not have noticed.
Mangani Banda: 6/10 – Mangani had a good game and looked steady between the sticks. He is good at organising the defence and made one good stop early on. However, he got a silly caution for time-wasting at a time when Zambia were leading comfortably.
Shemmy Mayembe: 6/10 – Mayembe thrives mostly on confidence. He was a marvel to watch when in attack.
Prosper Chiluya: 7/10 – Chiluya is another player who improved his game. He kept a close eye on Mali’s Mohamed Sangare. His strength is in tight marking but he lacked pace to stop the Malian attackers.
Moses Nyondo: 6/10 – From a shaky performance in the opening game against Guinea, Nyondo showed tremendous improvement against Mali. He combined well with Solomon Sakala although at times they were found wanting.
Solomon Sakala: 6/10 – The skipper played better than he did in the opening match against Guinea. He was in charge in defence. However, he failed to deal with the towering Karim who headed in the opener five minutes into the match.
Boyd Musonda: 7/10 – Musonda was on top of his game, the N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea midfielder) of the team. He fought for every ball and is one of the reasons the Zambian midfield was intact.
Edward Chilufya: 8/10 – Chilufya showed he could create chances and score. He scored a brace and created one. He is a visionary player with precise passes and most importantly eye for goal.
Enock Mwepu: 8/10 – Mwepu paid the fans with a splendid performance. He showed his class with a world-class tap-in on 35 minutes for Zambia’s third goal.
Emmanuel Banda: 8/10 – With the match at 1-1, Emmanuel scored a gem of a goal. A poor clearance by a Malian defender fell in Emmanuel’s way and the Portugal-based midfielder sent in a dipping volley that left goalkeeper Samuel Diarra in no man’s land.
Fashion Sakala: 9/10 – Fashion was voted man-of-the-match. He put in a performance befitting such an accolade. He scored the first and the sixth goal. He was a thorn in the flesh for the Malians’ collective back.
Patson Daka: 7/10 – After scoring in the 1-0 win over Guinea, Daka was tightly marked, hence failing to shake the net but he was involved in the initiative stages of most attacks.

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