Mozambique coach Abel Xavier says his side has made a huge statement by starting the qualifiers with a respected Zambian team away from home.
“We have made a statement that in modern times, anything is possible, we beat a team I respect a lot. We have shown that when you believe, you can be resilient,” said Xavier.
The Zambia senior national team put in a forgettable performance as they started the 2019 Africa Cup qualifier with a shocking 1-0 loss to Mozambique at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium yesterday.
It was a forgettable first half as the home side created very little chances and even the few they did, they could not put away.
It was difficult to single out an outstanding Zambian performer in the opening 20 minutes which clearly frustrated coach Wedson Nyirenda.
The game became lively in the 21st minute when the two most creative players – Fwayo Tembo and Chisamba Lungu – started ticking and forced Mozambique on the back foot.
Fwayo received a pass from right back Simon Silwimba and crossed crisply but captain Rainford Kalaba rose unmarked only to direct his header over the bar.
Moments later, Kalaba picked up a loose ball in the centre circle, squared to Chisamba who intelligently released Tembo but the Power Dynamos striker shot inches wide off the post in the 23rd minute.
Tired with what he was seeing, Nyirenda withdrew a lost Salulani Phiri for John Ching’andu in the 31st minute to try and inject some creativity and pace in the attacking midfield role.
In the 33rd minute, Tembo fired in a ferocious goal-bound free kick from outside the Mozambican box but though goal keeper Victor Jaime struggled to deal with it, he managed to parry it away for a corner.
The two teams went into half time deadlocked at nil-all and Nyirenda made another substitute, withdrawing Collins Mbesuma in a dressing room change for Dave Daka. Zambia showed a little improvement and tried to quicken things but still continued the pedestrian style of attacking towards the Mozambique goal until the 53rd minute when Kondwani Mtonga, the most lively player on the pitc,h hit the frame of goal with the goal keeper clearly beaten and his Zesco teammate hit the side net on the follow-up.
Kalaba was substituted in the 71st minute and was replaced by Given Singuluma and the already low-key game even went lower. With 10 minutes remaining, Mozambique realised an opportunity was reckoning and started knocking. Immediately, the danger was imminent as they missed two clean chances in quick succession.
Just as the fourth official was preparing to raise his electronic board to indicate additional time, Mozambique struck at 90 minutes through Stanley Motiffo and the local fans cheered amid shouts of “Under-20, Under-20” in recognition of the junior boys who were present in the stadium.
The local fans cheered Mozambique and a few Zambian players like Stophilla Sunzu and Chisamba Lungu but booed Nyirenda as he headed to the exit tunnel.