By MICHAEL MIYOBA
STRIKER Patson Daka emerged as the most lethal top man in the 2022 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers with five goals in three games he featured for the Chipolopolo who missed out of the AFCON after finishing third in Group H with seven points.
The Red Bull Salzburg striker who scored a brace in the 3-3 stalemate against Algeria on Thursday scored another brace to help Zambia finish the qualifiers on a positive note with a symbolic 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe in the “Battle of the Zambezi” played on Monday night at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Daka missed the first qualifier which was a 5-0 bashing by Algeria as he was at the Under-20 AFCON at the time.
His first goal was in the 2-1 loss to Zimbabwe before he missed the back to back games against Botswana due to injury.
The former Power Dynamos striker however bounced back strong to score four goals in two games against Algeria and Zimbabwe to finish the qualifiers as the top scorer with five goals.
However Daka’s brilliant performance in the qualifiers couldn’t help the Chipolopolo who missed out on the AFCON for a third consecutive period.
“It is an emotional day for us knowing that we couldn’t go to the Africa Cup and it is one thing we were looking forward to but unfortunately that was not the plan from God we just have to accept what has happened,” Daka said after the match in Zimbabwe.
“We played as a team again at the end of the day we got a positive result which was very important for our confidence going forward.”
Daka hailed his teammates for the team work exhibited in the final qualifier which acted as a preparatory fixture ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers set to kick off in June.
“From the word go we have been looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers and today’s game was part of the start of the process so we made sure that today’s game gives us the direction going forward.
“We know that we have a lot of things we have to work on and the coach is the best person to bring those things up and we just have to work together as a team according to the coaches’ instructions,” Daka said.
Zambia is in Group B of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers with Tunisia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea. Group toppers will qualify to the final round where they will face off in a two-legged knock-out contest.