Zambia came from a goal down to take a 2-1 half time lead against Kenya in a Group E of the Africa Cup of Nations qualification match played at Nyayo National Stadium yesterday.
Kenya’s Michael Olunga opened the scoring on 13 minutes to give the hosts an early lead when he poked the ball over an on rushing Mweene despite pressure from Boyd Mkandawire and Aaron Katebe.
But Winston Kalengo rose to the occasion to do Zambia proud when he levelled the scores in the 40th minute with a powerful shot.
However it was Zambia’s Collins Mbesuma’s 42 minute goal which put Zambia in front from inside the box and sealed Kenya’s fate.
Zambia now move into second position in Group E with 4 points on goal difference from Congo.
The game started on a fast note as both teams appeared to be in hurry to prove a point or two in a thriller which saw a number of substitituons, including some due to injury.
In the 63rd minute injured Boyd Mkandawire returned to the pitch as Zambia a corner. Mkandawire was later given a yellow card.
As the batttle got really hot referee stopped the game in the 68th minute as Kennedy Mweene went down and received attention on the pitch.
In a move to counter pressure from the Zambians Kenya substituted Dennis Oliech for Allan Wanga in the 66 minute.
In the 73’ play is stopped as Mkandawire was stretchered off.
Play resumed in the 74 minute following a moment where Zambian medical officials were not allowed access to Mkandawire who had already been stretchered off the pitch.
At this point Kenyan fans started throwing objects onto the pitch probably they knew that Zambia had come to win.
Coach George Lwandamina replaced Mkandawire in the 78 minute to increase the tempo of the game and also brought in Solomon Sakala.
Again the play was stopped in the 79 minute as Kalengo was stretchered off.
Lwandmina made another substitution in the 83 minute to ensure the fighting spirit was kept alive when he brought in Kondwani Mtonga to replace Kalengo.
Not leaving anything to chance Lwandamina made another change in the 87 minute to bring in Lubambo Musonda for Chisamba Lungu.
At the same time Kenya were awarded a corner but it was clear that Zambia would carry the day.
And at the end of the match Zambia’s coach George ‘chicken’ Lwandanmins said: ”It was a good victory. It wasn’t an easy game; playing away from home and with some new players in the team, but it was great to see them withstand the pressure.
“Our opponents played long balls to avoid our midfield but it worked against them because that kind of play can be good for anyone,” said Lwandamina.
The Chipolopolo coach then heaped praise on Collins Mbesuma whose experience he said proved invaluable.
“Playing Mbesuma was not a gamble. He is doing fine at his club in South Africa so I invited him so he could add value to the team and his contribution proved worthwhile. His experience was good for the team today.”
Meanwhile Harambee Stars coach Bobby Williamson blamed his defence for the loss.
“We started very well but we defended badly although to be fair the lads worked hard and fought well. But the frailty is in how we conceded the goals and that’s disappointing,” Williamson said.
The Zambian team flew back to Lusaka immeditaely after the match which left many Kenyans with wet eyes, not believing that they could lose on their own soil.
The next round of fixtures in March next year will see Guinea-Bissau host Kenya, while Zambia and Congo will clash in a top-of-the-table showdown.