A WEAKENED Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) side yesterday swept Zambia away with an efficient display in the opening game of the Four-Nation international friendly tournament played at the 11th November Stadium in Luanda.
Playing without TP Mazembe players, who have club commitments in the CAF 2015 Champions League final, the DRC went into this game as underdogs to the Chipolopolo side that qualified to the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
But two stunning first-half goals killed off rivals Zambia before scoring a third in the second half against the run of play that sealed the fate for the Chipolopolo at this tournament.
Goals from Guy Lusadisu and Bompunga Botuli more or less decided the outcome of the game in the first half but the Congolese were not done yet with Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele putting icing on the cake with a third in the second half. All the three scorers are from Kinshasa giant side AS Vita.
Zambia will now play for a third place position today against losers between Angola and Namibia.
Angola is using the tournament to celebrate 40 years of self-rule after getting serenity from their Portuguese colonial masters.
Delegation leader Lee Kawanu was magnanimous in defeat saying that the Zambian team lost by a huge score-line and yet they did not play disappointingly.
“It was a tough match. We did not play badly but Congo was more efficient with the ball than us and that made the difference. They also had more experienced players than us but I think our players had more to gain from this match.
“We utilised all our six substitutions and tomorrow all the players that didn’t play will get a chance to play,” Kawanu said.
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) yesterday confirmed the end of its partnership with renowned United States of America (USA) kit sponsor Nike.
FAZ licensing manager Erick Mwanza confirmed in a post on his Twitter and Facebook pages but could not state under what terms the deal which lasted 10 years ended.
Mwanza said the association was already in talks with another kit firm to dress the Chipolopolo and that the new deal would only be under the FAZ terms.
Mwanza was apparently reacting to an online publication that stated that the FAZ deal with Nike ended in August last year and that the Chipolopolo was now wearing an assortment of brands like Nike, Umbro and Adidas at once.
“We are at an end with Nike. It’s been a wonderful journey with Nike European operations (Netherlands), from 2004! A decade of a partnership that will remain a beautiful part of our football history,” Mwanza said.
He did not state though exactly when the deal ended or if it was Nike supplying the current kit the team is donning.
FAZ has had some sweet and bitter memories with Nike over the past decade with the highlight being the lifting of the Africa Cup in 2012 in the famous green jersey tri-band stripe running from top to bottom.
But soon after the Africa Cup, demand for replicas soared and that was a component that could not have been part of the deal.
FAZ went on to make replicas that did not bear the Nike logo, a situation that saw a lot of counterfeit replicas flooding the market, and this is what could have cracked the ‘marriage’ with confirmation now coming on the end of the deal.
Mwanza said that the new technical sponsor and kit suppliers of the Chipolopolo and all national teams would be engaged and unveiled on FAZ’s terms but that there was no need to rush.