Zambia lost the chance to defend the Africa cup when they draw against Burkina Faso at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Nigeria and Burkina Faso advanced to the quarter finals after finishing first and second from group C respectively.
It was a football match where both teams showed no cutting edge in attack for most part of the match. Zambia threatened to score early in the first half when Collins Mbesuma was put through by a Chisamba Lungu cross into the box in the 14th minute. With all the space and time at his disposal, he struck a tame shot straight at the goal keeper.
That first half missed opportunity all but ended Zambia’s clearest sight of goal. The Bukinabes “parked the bus” in front of their own goal to frustrate the Zambian attacks led by Emmanuel Mayuka.
Zambia’s dependable defence King, Stophilla Sunzu could have won it for Zambia when he found space in the box as he connected a chip from Rainford Kalaba in the 93rd Minute, but his volley went just wide. That was the last Zambian touch of the ball at this year’s tournament as the referee blew the final whistle.
Zambia becomes the first defending champions, since Algeria in 1990, to bow out of the tournament in the first round.
Zambia bows out with the consolation of being one of the two teams not to have lost a match at the African cup tournament since January, 2012.The other being Ivory coast.
Soccer fans in Kitwe were disappointed with the result, as they were seen heading home quietly in different directions. Bars in Kitwe’s Nkana east were left empty immediately after the final whistle was blown. Only a few brave fans could be heard discussing the match on their way home.
One fan from Nkana East, Melody Mpashi, wondered why Captain Christopher Katongo was left on the bench for the whole match. He expressed disappointment that the striking force was blunt without the versatile Captain. This was in sharp contrast to what other fans believed in, when they were crying for the coach to leave Katongo out of the match since the time of his substitution in the previous match.
Obrien Kapopo, also of Nkana East, supported Herve Renard’s decision to leave Katongo out of the starting line-up, saying that much as the result was disappointing, the coach made a brave decision to leave the underperforming Captain out.
Zambia now must regroup and focus on qualifying to the World Cup in Brazil.