THE victory is sweet and nice for the nation, says Zambia coach Beston Chambeshi after his side lifted the 2017 Under-20 AfCON trophy on Sunday.
And Senegal coach Joseph Koto caused laughter when he claimed during a post-match press conference that he did not see his players practicing witchcraft on the pitch.
Zambia claimed its first-ever Under-20 title with a 2-0 win over Senegal at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Chambeshi paid tribute to his players as well as Zambians for the support they gave throughout the two-week long competition.
“For sure, it’s sweet victory and it’s nice for the country. You know we are investing a lot in youth football and if we move like this, you know we are moving in a right direction. And I’m happy with the Zambian people; it’s beautiful to be winners of this tournament,” Chambeshi said.
“It’s good to win when you are playing at home with such a crowd to give a smile to the nation. I think it has been nice; it’s been fantastic. I thank the boys for the job well done and for the technical staff, I am happy with the effort we had to put in. It wasn’t easy to play Senegal. It’s a strong team with a good coach and l’m happy to be part and parcel of the winning team. The under-20 national team, it has been nice.”
Meanwhile, when asked about his players’ controversial use of a suspected fetish during the final, Koto said: “I didn’t see it. For sure I didn’t see and I would like also to say that I don’t believe in such kind of things and if Senegal really won this game you could have used it as a suspicion for the cause of the victory but despite what you are saying, the truth is that Senegal lost and Zambia won the cup. So what I believe in is the preparation of the team, not those things. I don’t believe and I would like to focus more on the preparations because the Africa Cup is over now; we have the [Under-20] World Cup. But I would like to say that we should stop believing that those things do exist because if they exist, I’m sure you could have seen Senegal winning this game. But I don’t believe it and I didn’t see it,” said Koto, drawing laughter from reporters.
Goals from topscorers Patson Daka and Edward Chilufya ensured victory for the hosts who did not lose a single match and only conceded two throughout the tournament.
Zambia took a 2-0 lead into the break, thanks to some very poor goalkeeping and defending by Senegal.
The first goal came in the 17th minute when Lamine Sarr spilt the ball on the near post and Daka ruthlessly punished him with a cool finish.
Poor communication between Sarr and his defender in the 35th minute handed Zambia the second goal that was credited to Edward Chilufya, but on the replay looked in a bizarre own-goal in case of sixes-and-sevens between Sarr and the defender nearest to him.
Senegal began the second half like a team possessed by demons of the voodoo-like stuff wrapped around their arms and socks which was later to be revealed as striker Ibrahima Ndiaye was caught throwing strange fetish substances in the Zambian goal mouth in the 58th minute, which earned him a booking from Burundian referee Thierry Nkurunzinza as his actions delayed the match due to scuffles that ensued among players.
Before that incident, match officials ordered Ibrahim Niane to throw away some piece of cloth strapped around his left hand in the 48th minute which incensed the crowd inside the Heroes arena which started chanting anti-juju slogans.
But it was Zambia who almost scored a third earlier on when striker Patson Daka chipped over Sarr only for defender Mamadou Diarra to clear the ball before it crossed the line in the 52nd minute.
Call it mind games or real, the young Teranga Lions certainly got inspired by their own voodoo beliefs as they dominated play, forcing Zambia to sit back and soak the pressure in their own half as Zambian goalie and man-of-the-match Mangani Banda became the busiest of the two goal minders as the agile Zanaco goalie came out on top with all that Senegal threw at him.
The match became a scrappy affair from then on as the hosts sat back resorting to sporadic attacks in the wings, with Senegal also fumbling their chances.
The crowd, being sure of victory, started the ‘Chipolopolo iye’ anthem which reverberated around the stadium the whole four added minutes after regulation time, with Zambian players tactically delaying play.
For his tournament exploits, Daka was voted 2017 player of the tournament.
Zambia, Senegal, Guinea and South Africa have all qualified to the FIFA U-20 World Cup to be held in South Korea in May.