DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO reports:
ZAMBIA 0 EQUATORIAL GUINEA 2
THE Zambia under-20 national soccer team’s dream of qualifying for the 2014 Canada World Cup finals yesterday suffered a setback when they went down to Equatorial Guinea in the first round first leg at Sunset Stadium in Lusaka.
Two quick goals in the first half were all the experienced Equatorial Guinea, who arrived barely 24 hours before the tie, needed to sink a determined home side whose luck at goal eluded them as they could not easily break their opponents’ defence.
Agile Olive Ngo Nyepel, whose skill and strength never looked anything close to an under-20 player, netted a brace to put her side in a comfortable lead.
Nyepel opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he scored from a free-kick outside the box after defender Jenny Mubanga, in a bid to clear a dangerous cross, fouled Olga Mibuy.
Seven minutes later, Nyepel headed in the second from Susana Onyang’s corner.
Astridah Pupe almost netted for Zambia but her effort hit the woodwork, missing the closest chance Zambia came to scoring.
Despite trailing, Zambia never slackened but continued to push for a goal although their efforts went begging.
Vice-President Guy Scott’s wife, Charlotte, watched the match.
Both Zambia coach Charles Bwale and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Juan Micha gave credit to the She-polopolo.
Bwale said his team still has a chance to redeem itself in the second leg and that hope is not lost.
“We are not out. There is still a second leg and we will not lose hope. We still have a chance to qualify,” he said.
Micha said: “We came here for a win and we played to win. Both teams played well. Zambia gave us a good game.”
The return leg will be played after a fortnight.
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