ZAMBIA yesterday finally rediscovered the winning formula, edging Burundi to shoot into joint leadership of Group B at the ongoing 2013 GOtv CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya.
The victory was Zambia’s first since August 3 when the Chipolopolo developmental squad beat Botswana 2-0 in the 2014 African Nations Championship qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Yesterday’s win on a muddy Nyayo National Stadium pitch in Nairobi was also Chipolopolo coach, Patrice Beaumelle’s first since taking over the Zambia top job in October from French compatriot and mentor, Herve Renard.
Nkana striker, Festus Mbewe scored Zambia’s vital goal on 64 minutes when he swept in a pin-point pass from man-of-the-match Felix Katongo.
Mbewe, a second half replacement for Bornwell Mwape, easily tapped in a Katongo pass, catching Burundi goalkeeper, Arthur Arakaza off guard.
Katongo, who put up one of his best performances in Zambian colours, controlled well a Kabaso Chongo through ball and managed to slid it past his two markers for Mbewe to tuck away.
The goal, which came four minutes after Julius Situmbeko had narrowly missed his chance, sent a pocket of Chipolopolo fans who included Zambia’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Mumbi Phiri into raptures.
Zambia put up an improved performance against the Swallows of Burundi with their coach, Lofty Mohamed forced to shuffle his cards but still failed to get the better of Chipolopolo goalkeeper, Toaster Nsabata.
With five minutes remaining on the clock, Alex Ng’onga almost added the second with his whipping free-kick but the ball just whistled over the bar.
However, a horrendous defensive mix-up almost gift Burundi an equaliser but the Swallows failed to make good use of what seemed to be a precious ‘gift’.
Earlier, the Chipolopolo mounted ceaseless pressure on the Swallows with Situmbeko seeing his well-struck shot flashing just over the bar after Katongo was tripped outside the box.
As time ticked on and Zambia still failing to find the opener, Burundi grew in confidence with Fiston Abdul Razak causing some problems for the Bronson Chama-marshalled defence.
On 22 minutes, Razak shook the Zambian woodwork with a thunderous shot following some poor defending by the Chipolopolo.
But a minute later, Zambia hit back with Mwape letting off a cracking shot flying over the Burundi goal post.
Defender Christopher Munthali also saw his header from a Chongo cross tantalisingly going wide.
Burundi had another chance to shock the Zambians on 40 minutes but the rampaging Razak, who fended off the challenge from Chama, missed the target with Nsabata at his mercy.
There was still time left in the first half for Katongo, who picked up a GOtv decoder for his performance, to slam a shot into the chest of the Swallows goalkeeper after a brilliant individual effort.
Zambia, who share the Group B top slot with Tanzania on four points, will meet Somalia on Wednesday in the final match for a slot in the quarter-finals.
- Toaster Nsabata, Kabaso Chongo, Christopher Munthali, Bronson Chama, Rodrick Kabwe, Sydney Kalume, Justin Zulu, Felix Katongo (Salulani Phiri 90+1), Ronald Kampamba, Julius Situmbeko (Alex Ng’onga 80th), Bornwell Mwape (Festus Mbewe 59th).
- Arthur Arakaza, Hassan Hakizimana, Rashid Harerimana, Issa Hakizimana, Frederic Nsabiyumva, Jean Claude Ndabusanze (Hussein Shabani 56th), Yussuf Ndikumana, Gael Duhayinoavyi (Jean Nduwimana 71st), Christophe Nduwarugira, Celestine Habonimana, Fiston Abdul Razak.