By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia national soccer team crucial Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) test match against Cameroon ended in a 1-1 stalemate at the King Abdalla Stadium in Saudi Arabia.
The Chipolopolo, who were the underdogs in the international friendly match were impressive and scored first through Leicester City forward Patson Daka.
It took Daka 11 minutes to give the Chipolopolo the lead. However, Cameroon got their equaliser 10 minutes later through Yongwa Ngameni, who was able to beat Chipolopolo goalkeeper Lawrence Mulenga with an easy tap in from close range.
Cameroon had started the match on a high note and almost went ahead just six minutes after kick off but were unlucky as Ngameni fluffed a chance after a cross from Jean-Charles Castelleto.
Zambia’s first real chance to get a goal came in the 10 minute when Fashion Sakala tried his luck with a shot which was parried away by the goal keeper Joseph Egobo.
Daka punished Egobo a minute after Sakala’s unfortunate miss to give Zambia the lead which was cancelled by Ngameni in the 20th minute.
Midfielder Rally Bwalya came close to restoring Zambia’s lead four minute before the half hour mark but Cameroon defender Christopher Wooh was able to deal with the danger as the first half ended in a draw.
In the second half, Avram Grant introduced Lameck Banda, Kings Kangwa and Lubambo Musonda for Sakala, Golden Mafwenta, Frankie Musonda and Edward Chilufya while Roderick Kabwe replaced the Prison Leopards defender Zephaniah Phiri.
Daka paved way for Kennedy Musonda while Kelvin Kapumbu was subbed out for Young Boys player Miguel Chaiwa.
Cameroon almost punished Zambia with a goal in the 70th minute but goal keeper Francis Mwansa who had replaced Lawrence Mulenga in goal produced a fine save to rescue the Chipolopolo from conceding.
However, Mwansa almost made a blunder in the 72nd minute when his poor pass to Chaiwa was intercepted by Anguisa whose foul on Chaiwa saved the day for the Chipolopolo.
As Zambia failed to create chances in the second half, Grant introduced Kelvin Kampamba for Stoppilla Sunzu in the dying minutes of the match.
Kemen Michel came close in the 80th minute but blasted his free kick from outside the box over the bar.
Zambia’s last attempt on goal fall to defender Roderick Kabwe whose shot went slightly over the bar after being serviced by Lameck Banda.
After concluding their international camp in Saudi Arabia, the Chipolopolo will fly to San Pedro tomorrow to kick start their Ivory Coast AFCON campaign.
The Chipolopolo play DR Congo on January 17 in San Pedro before facing Tanzania four days later. Zambia’s final Group F match is scheduled for January 24 against tournament favourites Morocco.