It was a Zambian afternoon at the Metropolitan COSAFA Under 20 finals and prize giving ceremony as the team swept all team and individual awards on offer except for one.
The young Chipolopolo’s clinical and ruthless display on the field of play during the tournament ensured that the team successfully defended the trophy they won in the past year.
Against Namibia in the finals, the young Zambians displayed great tactical and technical awareness, posting an unflattering 4 – 1 score line against their opponents.
Despite the game being evenly matched in the first ten minutes, the Zambians were the first to settle in the game, with their wingers causing havoc in the young Namibians’ defence.
The young Chipolopolo deservedly broke the deadlock in the 14th minute courtesy of their star striker, Chakwa Lungu. Buoyed by a handful but noisy small contingent of their fans in the eastern stands, the young Zambians stamped their authority in the game and put Namibia under immense pressure.
Barely two minutes after the opener, the young Zambians stunned Namibia when Lungu netted his second goal of the match to the delight of their small group of supporters. With nothing to lose, the Namibians launched their own fight back and were nearly rewarded in the 28th minute when Robinson Iyambo’s sweetly executed set piece went slightly wide with Charles Mweemba in Zambian goal well beaten.
Namibia nearly reduced the deficit in the 32nd minute through Neville Tjieueza, but the youngster’s effort hit the upright. The effort seemed to awaken the Zambians who again pressed for a cushion goal and nearly netted in the 38th minute but a stinging goal bound strike from Roderick Kabwe was saved for a corner by Colin Ndjai in Namibian goal posts.
The cushion goal finally came when an unmarked Kabwe easily tapped in a goal with less than a minute of referee’s time left before the end of the first half to ensure that Zambia had a comfortable lead going into recess. Coming from the break, Namibia were the first to show intent with a first strike at goal only for keeper Mweemba to save Roger Katjiteo’s shot for a corner.
The Zambians all but killed off the game a couple of minutes later when Lewis Macha rose the highest to head in Zambia’s fourth and last goal. Sensing defeat, the Namibian bench made a double substitution immediately after the goal and the gamble nearly paid off when substitute Ikwaterua Tjozongoro’s shot from his first touch of the ball was well saved by Mweemba.
From then on, it was the Zambians who took total control of the game and strung passes with impunity, making their opponents chase shadows. The passes seemed to delight Zambian supporters as they started loudly counting the number of passes completed.
The Namibians, however, scored their face saver in the dying minutes of the game through Tjozongoro but it was too little too late as the Zambians comfortably won the game.
Apart from winning the cup and gold medals, the young Chipolopolo also walked away with the Fair Play award, while Lungu and the team captain, Simon Silwimba, walked away the top goal scorer and best player, respectively.
The only award that eluded the Zambians was that of best goalkeeper, which went to Zimbabwean keeper, George Chigova.
Speaking in a post match interview with Telegraph Sport, Zambia’s stand-in coach, Oswald Mutapa, expressed happiness with his charges’ response in the games, adding that their display bears testimony to the bright future of Zambian soccer.
“Twelve members of this team are members of our Under 17 team, which means they are still eligible to play in future tournaments. This is the result of letting people who know football to run football,” Mutapa, who is the coach of Zambia’s Under 17, informed Telegraph Sport.