Zambia were clobbered by the Super Eagles of Nigeria by three goals to one in the second match at the on-going U-23 AfCON but coach Beston Chambeshi still believes that the team can qualify for the semi-final round.
In a post-match interview, Chambeshi, seemingly hopeful, reiterated that the table was open for Zambia and other countries in the group to qualify to the next round.
“It was a good game; it was tough because both teams needed points from this game. At the end of the day Nigeria won. The table is still open, if you saw the game we played against South Africa and today we will come back in the last game, I know the boys are hungry. It will be a good game against Ivory Coast.”
The loss has left Zambia’s hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in tatters and Chipolopolo are now banking on other results to secure qualification.
Chambeshi who conceded defeat justified that the lads played a lot of long balls contrary to the usual preferred styled of play of short passes.
He said the team have rehearsed a lot on defending set pieces despite conceding goals from the same.
“We have accepted the defeat; we did not play well. The boys were not at their best, we played much of the long ball which is not our type of play.We conceded from set pieces, we did a lot of work on set pieces,” he said.
Meanwhile Nigeria coach Imama Amapakabo who calimed bragging rights, bragged that his Olympic Eagles studied Zambia’s style of play and held them so they could not play.
Amapakabo said he put in place a contigent plan aimed at holding the wingers and stopping them from cutting inside.
“They are a team that we prepared for that whenever they attack, they attack in the wings, if the ball comes on top in the box whoever player comes shoots.”
“From our study of them, we knew that always they are going to go to the right and keep a player wide on the left and they will try to find him. So, we made a contingency plan for them and waited them.”
While Zambia can still qualify to the semi-final round, their chances are slimmer than the rest of the teams in the group.
First the Chipolopolo boys will have to beat Ivory Coast by a huge margin to increase their chances of qualification while at the same time hoping that South Africa will beat Nigeria so that Zambia gets to four points on the log while the Super Eagles and the Elephants remain on three. Still assuming that Zambia beats Ivory coast, if Nigerian and South Africa draw, South Africa will move to five points while Zambia will be at four together with the west African state. In that case the goal difference and the head-to-head count will be applied. If Nigeria wins, South Africa will remain on four points and again the goal difference and the head-to-head count will be applied. A win for Zambia is key to increasing their chances of qualification.
Zambia will play Ivory Coast on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in the final Group B match.