Friday Nov 17, 2023. 20:11
Zambia avoided a slip-up in their opening 2026 World Cup qualifier as they battled back from behind to triumph 4-2 over Congo at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on Friday evening.
The two teams went into the half-time interval deadlocked at 2-2 after Silvere Ganvoula (13′) and Lameck Banda (43′) cancelled out early goals from Patson Daka (5′) and Mons Bassouamina (15′).
Avram Grant’s side struck the frame of the goal once in each half, but they hit the front again on 69 minutes through Fashion Sakala before Daka sealed the win in stoppage time.
Chipolopolo moved to the top of Group E courtesy of their three points in Ndola ahead of Niger’s clash with Tanzania on Saturday. Morocco had a bye following the withdrawal of Eritrea earlier this month.
An action-packed first half saw the hosts get off to a flying start when Daka headed home Emmanuel Banda’s cross after just five minutes to open the scoring.
However, their lead was short-lived as Ganvoula hit back for Congo eight minutes later with a finish from inside the box before Bassouamina capitalised on a defensive lapse to beat Francis Mwansa on the quarter-hour mark, making it 2-1 to the visitors.
Zambia looked to respond and Banda was a whisker away from restoring parity with a strike that hit the underside of the crossbar on 31 minutes, but they did find a reply before half-time when the self-same player turned his marker and unleashed a shot into the back of the net in the 43rd minute.
Wolfrigon Mongondza had to be alert to keep out an effort from Daka in the 62nd minute, although there was nothing the goalkeeper could do to prevent Sakala from scoring seven minutes later after being picked out inside the box by Bandam who was having a fine game.
The woodwork came to the Red Devils’ rescue once more in the final minute as substitute Edward Chilufya thumped his shot against the post, having only entered the field of play six minutes earlier.
However, there was still time for Daka to get his name on the scoresheet for a second time when he slotted home from inside the area in the 92nd minute following good work from Fashion Sakala on the left to set him up.
Zambia (2) 4 (Daka 5′, 90+2′, L. Banda 43′, F. Sakala 69′)
Congo (2) 2 (Ganvoula 13′, Bassouamina 15′)
Zambia: F. Mwansa, D. Chanda, S. Sunzu, B. Sakala (C. Chama 66′), B. Chepeshi, K. Kangwa, R. Kabwe, E. Banda, L. Banda (E. Chilufya 83′), P. Daka, F. Sakala.
Congo: W. Mongondza, M. Poaty (B. Mazikou 46′, J. Ondongo 56′), B. Passi, Y. Andzouana, Emmerson, G. Makouta (C. Massanga 81′), F. Dembi, A. Makoumbou (D. Massoumou 56′), M. Bassouamina (G. Charpentier 81′), P. Mboungou, S. Ganvoula.