ZAMBIA yesterday edged closer to its maiden qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia after beating Sudan 2-0 to qualify to the final group stage of the qualifiers via a 3-0 aggregate.
The Chipolopolo were carrying a 1-0 advantage over Sudan whom they beat last week in Khartoum.
The first half started on a brighter note for the Chipolopolo with Lubambo Musonda causing havoc on the right wing with his dazzling runs while Evans Kangwa’s pace on the left wing created more room for Zambia to manoeuvre.
However, both teams failed to find the back of the net with Zambia’s first clear chance coming in the 18th minute when the ball fell gracefully at the feet of Collins Mbesuma but his tame shot was easily picked up by Sudanese goalkeeper Akram el Hadi Salim. Sudan responded almost immediately as Atahir Eltahir Babikir picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park before sky-rocketing a thunderbolt over the bar. Musonda again buccaneered his way through a tactically resolute Sudanese defence only to see his shot from outside the 18-yard box saved by Salim with 29 minutes played.
Sudan immediately launched a counter attack after the Musonda scare but the move was thwarted by midfield maestro Nathan Sinkala who then teed up Winston Kalengo with a long searching pass but the Zesco United hit man headed straight at the goalkeeper.Musonda’s hard work paid off in the 60th minute with an easy tap-in following Salim’s initial save of Kalengo’s goal-bound header after Mbesuma’s well-taken corner kick. Sudanese coach Hamdan Hamad immediately rang the changes, bringing in Atif Khalid Eltayib for Mohamed Koko Abdalla but the change did not change the complexion of the game as Zambia continued piling pressure and literary camped in their opponents’ half.The George Lwandamina-drilled side sealed the lead through Kalengo after a good run down the right frank to disposses Abdallatif Saeed Osman before rounding off Amir Kamal Suliman and powering a shot past Salim, with only 10 minutes left to play.Speaking after the game, Lwandamina told the reporters that his target was to guide the team the World Cup.
“It was a tricky game but we played our game and Sudan opened up. We have jumped this hurdle but we have to sit and plan now.
“We are getting closer to achieving the World Cup dream. The team is taking shape because we are now able to score one or two goals each time we play a crucial match. ‘‘We await the draws but I know it will be tough but I believe we are equal to the challenge,” Bwalya said.
Meanwhile, Hamad conceded defeat but said he was satisfied with the performance of the young players whom he said had attained the experience needed in competitive matches.“I feel we played a good match considering the intense environment we played in. The players have gained experience from the two matches since we missed senior players and only used the young ones,” Hamad said.