Ghana 2 Zambia 1
ZAMBIA’S dream of making a third appearance at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals was shattered on Thursday night when the Under-20 squad controversially lost to Ghana at the 2015 African Youth Championship in Senegal.
This loss completed a poor start to the year by Zambian teams at various African competitions.
Honour Janza’s senior team failed to qualify to the knock-out stage at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea before the Under-17 squad of Chris Kaunda was eliminated early at the Africa Junior Championship in Niger.
Thursday night’s Under-20 squad loss left a bitter taste in coach Hector Chilombo’s mouth who described the team’s exit as painful.
In this Group B tie at Caroline Faye Stadium in Mbour, Zambia took a second minute lead through Dave Daka before Ghana’s Black Satellites fought back by hitting the target twice and secure their ticket to the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals in New Zealand.
After Daka’s goal, Ghana responded before the half hour mark through Asiedu Attobrah before Samuel Afful fired the Black Satellites in front with only six minutes remaining on the clock.
The Junior Chipolopolo who had shown some determination and desire to win, were purposeful throughout the match and had Patrick Ngoma’s goal disallowed for offside just before the break.
Chilombo, who missed the services of injured inspirational skipper Lubambo Musonda, said the loss was painful especially his charges had taken control of the game and managed to score early.
“I am very disappointed what would have been our second goal was disallowed. It is painful to exit in such a way,” he said during the post-match briefing.
Chilombo was however happy that the talent exhibited by the players was a true testimony that Zambia had a bright future.
But Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh expressed satisfaction with the way his players adjusted to win against a plucky Zambian side.
“Our opponents (Zambia) were very physical and strategically too they were very strong; hard running and big pace on the ball but the team stood against all odds to win the game. I give big credit to the boys. That tells you their mental fortitude so much credit to the boys for matching our opponents,” Tetteh, the 2009 World Cup winner, said.
Ghana and Mali qualified for the semi-finals from Group B on six points each while Zambia and South Africa who are yet to collect points were eliminated from the tournament.
Zambia and South Africa face other tomorrow at the Leopald Senghor Stadium in Dakar in a formality fixture.