Zambia had their first win in three games of the Cameroon 2021 Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Group H, coming from behind to defeat Botswana 2-1 at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Thursday.
Chipolopolo found themselves behind just before the break, but managed a quick equalizer, before Collins Sikombe snatched the winner 23 minutes from time, as Zambia rebounded from two previous defeats last November.
The hosts had the lion share of possession in the first half. Zambia had first sight at their visitors’ goal after 11 minutes when Augustine Mulenga found Justin Shonga, but the later shot was saved by Botswana’s goalkeeper.
The Chipolopolo had corners in quick succession but without making use of the ball. It was Mulenga once again who tried to find the opener at the half hour mark, but his shot went wide.
And against the run of play it was Botswana who took the lead in the 45th minute. Across from the left found Tumisang Orebonye’s header to give the Zebras a shocking lead on the brink of halftime.
But Zambia responded immediately, and two minutes into injury time, Enock Mwepu equalized in a similar pattern. Shonga’s cross was headed by Mwepu to give the hosts a deserved equalizer with what was the opening half last kick.
The hosts started the second half started on the same attacking note, but once again Botswana could have taken the lead. A counterattack was blocked in time by Kelvin Kapumbu.
The game was slowed down because of heavy rain that ditched the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
And Zambia’s pressure finally paid off after 67 minutes. A swift attack found Fashion Sakala who rounded his marker and assisted Collins Sikombe to put the hosts ahead for the first time.
Sikombe could have immediately doubled his tally when his shot was deflected to a corner three minutes later.
Sakala missed a chance to make it 3-1 five minutes from time when his header from Chabula’s cross just missed the target.
Zambia leapfrogged Botswana to third place on three points, two more than the Zebras. Both sides lock horns again next Tuesday in Francistown.
Congo 2-0 Eswatini
Meanwhile in Brazzaville, Congo raised their Group I tally to six points, three shy of leaders Senegal, beating Eswatini 2-0 at Stade Alphonse Massamba-Debat.
The first half ended goalless despite seeing the hosts dominating possession in all compartments. Sylvère Ganvoula could have given Congo a deserved lead, but he missed from the spot to deny the hosts a glorious chance.
Ganvoula was once again the man behind Congo’s chances, missing a one on one chance at the hour mark.
But Congo finally scored, and they did so twice in quick succession. Prince Ibara gave the Red Devils the lead after 77 minutes, and four minutes later it became 2-0 when Junior Makiesse doubled Congo’s lead as the Red Devils had their second win of the campaign.
Senegal top the group on nine points, three more than Congo, while Guinea-Bissau and Eswatini follow in that order with three and zero points respectively. Eswatini hosts the Red Devils in the revers fixture next Tuesday.
This article was previously published on CAFonline