Zambia’s African Cup of Nations campaign got off to a superb start last night with a 2-1 victory over a strong Senegal side in Bata.
Amara Traore’s men found themselves two goals down within the first twenty minutes, when first Emmanuel Mayuka, and then Rainford Kalaba scored following abysmal Senegalese defending. Dame Ndoye pulled a goal back with 15 minutes remaining, but the strike proved to be too little, too late.
Senegal, fancied by many to win the tournament, started slowly and failed to respond to Zambia’s energetic start. In the 12th minute, the first goal arrived, Emmanuel Mayuka scoring with a firm header past Bouna Coundoul after the defence had failed to clear a ball into the box. Zambia were visibly buoyed by their fast start, and it soon got even better for the men from Southern Africa.
In the 20th minute, Rainford Kalaba kept his composure to slot the ball past Coundoul after being put clean through on goal following a quick Zambian counter attack. The goal highlighted a lack of organisation in the Senegal defence, and Kalaba took full advantage and dealt a fatal blow to the Lions of Ternaga’s hopes of making a winning start to the tournament.
Despite a strike-force consisting of Demba Ba, Moussa Sow, Mamadou Niang and Papiss Demba Cissé, Senegal struggled to penetrate the Zambian defence and claw their way back into the game. Eventually a break through was made, with another of Senegal’s prolific forwards, Dame Ndoye of FC Copenhagen, scoring inside the near post following a fine piece of control.
This proved to be only a consolation, as Zambia held out for a well-deserved victoy and inflict an opening day shock. Amara Traore will be hoping that his side can respond to this sluggish start. If they can’t, then their hopes of winning the African Cup of Nations for the first time will vanish.