Zambia suffered heartbreak as they were defeated by Nigeria in a penalty shootout. Herve Renard’s men were by far the best side throughout the game with plenty of possession and a host of chances, but failed to convert any with the heartbreak of spot-kicks eventually deciding their fate – Thomas Nyrienda missing the one penalty that made all the difference.
It was Zambia who created the first real scare when a Felix Katongo corner caused some discomfort for goalkeeper Enyeama who charged off his line and flapped at thin air.
At the other end, Dickson Etuhu struck a low 20-yard effort straight at Kennedy Mweene, before the Chipolopolo keeper was forced into a scrambled save after a sweeping move from Nigeria ended with a crisp strike from John Obi Mikel. Zambia hit back as Chris Katongo nodded wide from close range, while James Chamanga then missed the best chance of the half for his side when he only partly connected a pin-point cross from the left as the sides went in level at the break.
Zambia began the second half positively with Felix unleashing a 25-yard strike that bounced wickedly in front of Enyeama, who was taken by surprise as the ball deflected off his body and away from the danger area.
There was certainly a spring in the step of the Zambians with Mulenga and Chamanga both carving out half-chances, before Hijani Himonde saw his six-yard header from a Felix corner scrambled off the line by Mohamed. Another Felix corner and another goal-line clearance was needed to prevent the opener – Mohamed again the saviour as Mulenga tried to capitalise with a quick shot. With time running out Mulenga shot agonisingly wide as the game went into extra time.
The tempo seemed to have lifted when the game was restarted with substitute Victor Obinna playing in a good low cross to Obafemi Martins from the left, but he dragged his shot wide. But the Nigerians then went back into a shell as they sat back and watched their opponents show plenty of endeavour without reward – the two sides reaching the 105-minute mark still inseparable.
The start of the final period was just as sprightly, and Zambia were the strongest side, who gained the advantage after Onyekachi Apam was sent off following a second caution for a push on Emmanuel Mayuka.
William Njovu and Martins both had chances to win the game late on, but were let down by poor finishing leaving the game to be decided by penalties.
Mikel, Martins, Obinna, Peter Odemwingie and Enyeama all scored for their side, but despite Noah Chivuta, Katongo, Mayuka and Mweene netting for Zambia, Nyrienda missed the crucial fourth kick when Enyeama made an impressive stop to his right.
The Hapoel Tel Aviv goalkeeper then stepped up to score the goal and kill off the brave southern Africans and earn Nigeria a semi final clash against fierce rivals Ghana.