ZAMBIA put up an exceptional play to thrash Kenya 4-0 in their opening match of the 2016 COSAFA Cup Under-17 tournament in Mauritius at Stade Saint Francois Xavier yesterday.
The 2014 champions sent a strong warning to the group opponents that they were determined to retain the title by netting all the four goals in the first half. Zambia’s strategy of pressing hard from the first minute of the game seemed to knock the Kenyans back on their heels and had no answer to the unexpected onslaught.
Man of the match Nicholas Mulilo put Zambia in the lead on the 4th minute after a mistake by Kenyan goalkeeper George Ouma handed him an easy tap-in before grabbing the second goal in the 13th minute. Zambia continued to mount pressure on Kenyan defence which paid off in the 37th minute when Damiano Kola struck the third and it was almost over for the East Africans.
Six minutes later Nkandu Kunda sealed off the victory for Zambia with a classic goal which completely shut out Kenya’s steam before the break. Kenya come into the second half more organised and could have scored in the 47th minute but the long range shot went wide. The Kenyans came close to finding a consolation goal a few minutes later but Eric Murithi’s shot was cleared away.
Zambia held firm and defended well against the Kenyans who packed themselves in the Zambian half but failed to utilise their opportunities. By press time Zambia was leading the group ahead of the match between Malawi and Madagascar later in the afternoon.
“Kenya is a good team but my boys were well coordinated and dominated their weak midfield and defence. I am happy that the boys won the game with at least four goals, and hopefully to replicate the same performance against Malawi,” he said.
Kenyan coach Andreas Spier said his boys could not match the junior Chipolopolo’s pace and failed to play as a unit. Zambia faces Malawi tomorrow before taking on Madagascar on Tuesday.