Zambia reduced her chances of making it to the knockout stage of the African cup of Nation when they drew one all with a formidable Nigeria at Mbobela Stadium in South Africa this afternoon.
Bukina Faso now leads group C, after thrashing Ethiopia by four goals to nil. Zambia and Nigeria are now tied on two points in second place.
Zambian now needs to beat Bukina Faso to garner five points and book a place into the second round.
They could also mathematically qualify if both final group C matches end in draws. Zambia and Bukina Faso need to draw with a higher score line than the Ethiopia Vs Nigeria match to qualify on number of goals scored.
Some Kitwe fans spoken, to after both matches, expressed mixed feelings about Zambia’s chances of progressing to the next round.
Boyd Siame of Nkana East Kitwe had this to say,” Zambia cannot make it. Nigeria will destroy Ethiopia. How can they lose by such a margin of 4-0 when Bukina Faso was even a man down? It means that Bukina Faso is stronger than Ethiopia, whom we drew with. they will beat us.”
Asked about the match, Martin Musonda of Kitwe’s New Ndeke saidBa Zambia cannot score more than two goals at the moment. I do not see them qualifying via a higher scoring draw. They are out. I do not even want to have a heart attack talking about them any more.”
Marvin Mwelwa of Kitwe’s Nkana East, however, expressed hope that Zambia would go through to the next round. ”Zambia will qualify. They had relaxed too much, thinking that because they are the defending champions then every team will be scared of them. They will wake up now and play their game. We always play better when we are under pressure.”
Eleanor Mumba of Chimwemwe Township in Kitwe said, “I trust our players. The only reason why they are not scoring a lot of goals is because our strikers are selfish. We have been having good chances but they are not passing to the most free player to score. I wish the Coach can look into that problem and tell the boys that this is about team work.”
Some fans spoken to attributed Zambia’s poor run at this tournament to the poor state of the pitch.
Robert Mwenya of Nkana West, who watched the match in Kitwe’s Nkana East Township at Muluka Bar said that Zambia failed to play their fast counter-attacking game because of the sandy pitch: “Mwachimona ba Zambia bachifilwa ukuteya bola yabo mulandu wa muchanga. Tamwachimona pa TV pa half time bachilanga Sunzu aimba mumuchanga na boot yalanga no kulanga.”
Zambia plays the final group match at the same venue at 20.00hrs Zambian time. All the soccer fans in Kitwe have pledged to rally behind the team and will turn out in large numbers to watch the must- win match at various public bars.
If Zambia wins on Tuesday, Kitwe will erupt into celebration hoping that Zambia goes on to retain the crown that they won last year.