By MICHAEL MIYOBA
ZAMBIA’S quest to break the jinx of failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations received a major boost after the Chipolopolo came from a goal down to record a sweet victory by beating Group H rivals Comoros 2-1 at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Super Sub Klings Kangwa was the hero of the day as he scored an unstoppable free kick to give the Chipolopolo the needed victory to increase their chances of qualifying for the 2023 edition after starting the qualifying campaign on a disappointing note following a 3-1 beating by Ivory Coast last Friday.
The Chipolopolo who needed nothing but a win to redeem their chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece dominated play from the first whistle before they were stunned by Ben Elfardou who silenced Heros Stadium with a goal in the 13th minute after benefiting from a Zambia’s clumsy defending.
Defenders Thandi Mwape and Shemy Mayembe and goal keeper Toaster Nsabata failed to clear the ball before El Fardou slotted in an empty net to give the visitors the lead.
Chipolopolo captain Enock Mwepu grabbed the equaliser for the Chipolopolo in injury time of the first half.
The Brighton and Hoves Albion midfielder showed composure in the opponents eighteen yard box before slotting the ball into the back of the net to rejuvenate his team mates going into the break.
In the second half, the Chipolopolo picked up from where they had finishing d the first half and dictated play before suffering a set back in defence when left back Rodrick Kabwe suffered an injury.
Kabwe was replaced by midfielder Lameck Banda who made an immediate impact and combined well with Kangwa who had replaced Edward Chilufya in the early Stages of the second stanza.
With Banda taking over the right wing, versatile Lubambo Musonda dropped to occupier the vacant left back position.
After numerous attempts to score the winner from Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala, the Chipolopolo finally grabbed the winner two minute before the finals whistle.
Kangwa stunned the Islanders with a superb free kick from outside the eighteen yard box to send Chipolopolo fans who had filled the Stadium to capacity into a frenzy as the Chipolopolo boys collected their first win which propelled them to second with three points, on par with the Islanders who dropped to third on the log.
The win excited coach Aljosa Asanovic who congratulated his boys and the fans for not giving up and inspiring the team to victory.
The Croatian said the win redeemed Zambia’s hopes of qualifying for the continental championship to be played next year in Ivory Coast.
And Mwepu said the payers worked as a team to bounce back to winning ways after starting the qualifiers with an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Younes Zerdouk attributed the defeat to poor officiating by the referees who he accused of favouring Zambia.
Zerdouk said Comoros did not deserve to lose the game after playing well.
Comoros’s next fixture will be in September against the Ivory Coast while Zambia will Lesotho.