CARDIFF City winger Ntazana Mayembe described his debut match for Zambia against Senegal as an emotional moment for him.
The 18-year-old however was not given enough time to showcase his game as he came on just two minutes left in regulation time, with Zambia trailing 3-1 in Senegal.
Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic surprised many with his starting 11 when he picked fringe players despite his opponents picking the best of their European based players.
By the time it was half time, Zambia had already succumbed to a 3-0 score line with Liverpool star Sadio Mane leading the charges for the hosts.
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly made sure he thwarted the little that the Zambian attack tried to throw at his backline in the first half.
In comparison, the Zambian midfield of Salulani Phiri and Klings Kangwa was a gift to the Senegalese as they ‘walked’ in the park for fun
resulting in exposing young Dominic Chanda who was a surprise pick to partner hard-tackling Tandi Mwape in central defence.
The selection of Lameck Siame to start in goal ahead of tested Cyril Chibwe equally raised eyebrows of many supporters whose questions still remain unanswered.
On resumption, Micho made changes especially in midfield and the attacking areas, and there was instant improvement in the Zambian
playing style and attack.
Zanaco striker Moses Phiri, especially, had room to express himself and he did it at full strength drawing the experienced Koulibaly into committing fouls resulting in the Italy-based defender being booked.
A free-kick was awarded to Zambia and Chanda headed in a curler from Prosper Chiluya.
Rodger Kola had two glorious opportunities to level matters but fluffed when it mattered the most.
The introduction of Brian Mwila put the Senegalese on the back foot for most of the second half but it was too-little-too late as the damage was done by Zambia’s weak starting 11.
“It is an emotional game; I mean to come in. I want to give it all, to play for the shirt, that’s what I came to do and from me it’s an unbelievable feeling, overcoming my fears,” Mayembe said.
He went on to analyse the game: “I thought we did well in the second half; we applied ourselves in the second half. First half, I think we did not switch on in terms of playing our best football. Our best football came in the second half but I think it was a bit too late.”
Zambia will now play Benin tomorrow in Cotonou before wrapping up with Sudan on Friday.
And Mayembe says bouncing back will be key for
Zambia in the coming games.