…as Zambia outclass Congo Brazzaville in six-goal thriller
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia national team started their campaign for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on an exciting note by overcoming Group E rivals Congo Brazzaville 4-2 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
A brace from Leicester City striker Patson Daka and goals apiece from Lameck Banda and Fashion Sakala secured the win for the Chipolopolo boys who had to come from behind despite scoring first as they allowed Congo Brazzaville to score two quick goals in the first stanza.
The Chipolopolo boys started the match on a high note with Patson Daka snatching the lead five minutes into the first half.
Daka nodded in Fashion Sakala’s cross to give Zambia a perfect start. However, Silvere Mboussy silenced the Zambians when he stunned goal keeper Francis Mwansa with a long-range striker to level matters for Congo Brazzaville in the 13th minute.
Two minutes later Mons Bassouamina put Congo Brazzaville ahead with a powerful shot from inside the box after taking advantage of Rodrick Kabwe’s clumsy defending.
Zambia came close to grabbing the equaliser on the half hour mark but were unfortunate as Lameck Banda hit the cross bar from Fashion Sakala’s cross.
The Italiy-based Chipolopolo star finally levelled the tie three minutes before the break, leaving his marker for dead before beating Mongondza Wolfriam with a screamer as the first half ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Zambia continued to dictate play in the second half and almost went ahead in the 62nd minute when Daka tried his luck with a sublime shot which was saved by Mongondza.
Five minutes after the hour mark, Avram Grant withdrew Benson Sakala for Cletus Chama who stabilised the middle of the park and the change worked to Zambia’s advantage when Fashion Sakala finally scored the third goal in the 70th minute.
Sakala found the back of the net with a strange goal scored with the help of his stomach.
Ten minutes before the final whistle, Grant made another tactical change as Lameck Banda paved way for Edward Chilufya who came close to scoring his first goal at senior level but was unlucky as he hit the cross bar after he was perfectly set up by Chama in the 88th minute.
Daka completed his brace with a cool finish after beneftiting from Fashion Sakala’s assist in the third minute of added time to give Zambia a 4-2 win which excited thousands of Zambians who had filled Levy Mwanawasa Stadium to capacity and the millions following the match religiously in front of TV sets.
The win propelled Zambia to the summit of Group E consisting of Morocco, Tanzania, Niger and Congo DR.
After beating Congo Brazzaville in Ndola, the Chipolopolo will travel to Marrakech, Morocco for their second World Cup qualifier against Niger slated for November 21.