Chililabombwe (Zambia) : The Zambia National Soccer Team has fluffed its slim chances of qualifying for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations after a one-all draw with little known Chad in a game played at Chililabombwe’s Konkola stadium.
Zambia had plenty of chances which, however, went begging, thus allowing the visiting team take an early lead in 12th minute through their left winger, Sikula Essaya, who beat an offside trap much to the surprise of the home crowd.
The Chipolopolo boys stepped the tempo of the game as they repeatedly attacked in search of an equalizer, but France based Jacob Mulenga and existing winger, Felix Katongo who had best chances of equalizing in the first half, could not beat Chad goal keeper Kaulara Aramel who proved worth of his task as he continuously saved goal bound shots.
Katongo fired a thunderous shot in the 32nd minutes but was again denied an opportunity to add his name on the scoresheet while Mulenga missed the target by heading wide after clean passes.
In the second half, Zambia played even better but luck was not on their side as goal mouth kept evading with Katongo again coming close to scoring early in the second stanza.
Makeshift midfielder James Chamanga, who played below his usual standards, fired a cracking shot in the 56th minute which the Chad minder harried to allow Zambia’s export to Portugal Collins Mbesuma to slot a bounding goal into the net for an equalizer.
After the equalizer the Chipolopolo boys looked even more determined to score the clincher which, however, never came until the end of the match.
Mbesuma proved his worth by making excellent runs and dribbling his way past the Chad defence, but poor finishing from the rest of the contingent was the order of the day.
Coach, Patrick Phiri, substituted Katongo for nimble footed Clifford Mulenga but the teenager made little impact to the game due to the injury he sustained to pave way for Ignitius Lwipa later in the game.
Jacob Mulenga was second to be substituted for Songwe Chalwe, but the move did not change proceedings as he also missed clear cut chances in the dying minutes of the match.
After the match Zambia coach, Patrick Phiri said he did not lose hope of qualifying as there is need to wait for the results of the South Africa verses Congo Brazzaville to be played tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Chad coach Mahammad Bademana said he was impressed with the match and Zambia needed to do a lot of training as they are not a strong team.