Tuesday Jun 07, 2022. 20:13
Zambia claimed a clutch 2-1 win over Comoros in a Group H 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Tuesday evening.
Evans Kangwa scored a late winner for Chipolopolo, who looked set for a damaging home draw against Les Coelacantes, but were able to pull the game out of the fire and join their opponents and Ivory Coast (who have a game in hand against bottom-of-the-log Lesotho on Thursday) in a three-way tie on three points at the top of the standings.
Zambia started strongly and forced the visitors onto the back foot in the opening stages, but Comoros claimed the lead against the run of play in the 13th minute.
Under pressure from Faiz Selemani, defender Tandi Mwape failed to deal with a long pass, forcing goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata to come off his line and make a hash of collecting the ball – El Fardou Ben took full advantage, collecting the loose ball and finding the back of the net from the left of the penalty area.
Zambia were inches away from an equaliser on 20 minutes when Fashion Sakala saw his shot from the edge of the box only half saved by Ali Ahamada, but the loose ball rebounded off the post and the goalkeeper did brilliantly to throw himself in front of Lubambo Musonda when a goal on the follow-up seemed inevitable.
On the half-hour mark the ‘keeper made another outstanding save, tipping Sakala’s shot – which looked destined for the top corner of the net – away from danger, as Chipolopolo continued to push for a leveller.
They came close again on 43 minutes, with Edward Chilufya spotting Ahamada off his line and trying his luck with an ambitious effort from the left flank, but the ‘keeper did just enough to tip the ball onto the crossbar.
However, the hosts’ pressure finally paid off in injury time at the end of the first half, with a scrappy corner kick falling kindly for Enoch Mwepu, who controlled on the chest before firing home a low volley to see the teams level at 1-1 heading into the interval.
Zambia threatened first after the restart, with Mwepu heading on goal from a corner kick on 51 minutes only for Ahamada to make another good save, while Comoros almost reclaimed the lead shortly thereafter through Said Bakari, but he was denied by the fingertips of Nsabata.
Patson Daka also came close with a point-blank-range effort on 65 minutes which Ahamada deflected onto the post.
A draw seemed the inevitable result, but Zambia claimed victory through a brilliant 88th minute strike from Evans Kangwa, who cracked home a right-footed shot direct from a free kick which finally had the beating of the excellent Ahamada.
The teams’ next Group H fixtures will be in September, with Zambia at home to Lesotho and Comoros away to Ivory Coast.
Zambia (1) 2 (Mwepu 45+2’, Kangwa 88’)
Comoros (1) 1 (Ben 13’)
Zambia: Nsabata, L. Musonda, Mwape, F. Musonda, Kabwe (L. Banda 57’), E. Banda (Kangwa 61’), Mwepu, Mayembe, Daka, Sakala, Chilufya (Kampamba 79’)
Comoros: Al. Ahamada, M’Changama, Zahary, M’Dahoma, Abdallah (Mattoir 90+4’), Bakari (B. Youssouf 68’), Abdullah, Bachirou (I. Mohamed 73’), Selemani, Ben, M. Youssouf