THE national football team on Tuesday night went down 3 – 1 to Tunisia in the final group stage match of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
The results meant that Chipolopolo missed out on going on to the final qualifying stage.
Tunisia qualified to the next round on 13 points, Equatorial Guinea who drew 1 – all with Mauritania came out second on 11 points, while Zambia ended the group third on seven points with Mauritania occupying the bottom space on two points.
In his post-match interview, coach Beston Chambeshi expressed optimism that Zambia would be at the 2023 Africa Cup tournament.
“Looking at the team now, the next edition of Africa Cup we will be there. It’s now a team that can play in any competition and that’s our aim now,’’ he told journalists. ‘’We need to add one or two players but we have a team now; it’s a matter of how we push the boys in the next competition.’’
On the Tunisia game, Chambeshi said the team lost the game in the first half because the defense relaxed.
“We lost the game in the first half, the second half we were strong enough to play a good game. We have a young team from the Under-20, 23 boys we now have a team that can compete and take our country to another level,’’ said Chambeshi. ‘’So, we told the boys they had nothing to lose and express themselves and play for mother Zambia, and they put up a good fight in the second half. But, otherwise, we lost the game in the first half. These are qualifying games and Tunisia had their game plan, us the defense in the first half relaxed. And you could see how Tunisia came in, they were fast on us but we picked up in the second half.’’
Tunisia went ahead in the 18th minute when Laidouni Aissa Bilal reacted first to a second ball from a free kick launched into the box to slot home from near the penalty spot.
It could have been two goals to nil in the 29th minute but Toaster Nsabata saved a penalty from Khazri Wahbi after he had brought down the striker in the box following a poor back pass by Tandi Mwape.
However, with the defence in its sixies and sevens, the second goal came in the 31st minute after shredding the Zambian defence with some good play which was finished off by Drager Mohamed.
The Carthage Eagles sealed their passage to the next round with a third goal in the 43rd minute scored by left back Maaloul Ali who powered a short past Nsabata.