Sat, 10 Jun 2017 08:55:20 +0000
Zambia U-20 national soccer team was eliminated from the on-going FIFA World Cup football tournament in South Korea. This followed Zambia’s defeat to Italy in the quarter finals match played on Monday June 5, 2017.
The junior Chipolopolo Boys scored in the fourth minute through Patson Daka, who dribbled the Italian defenders including their goalkeeper. The lead in the early phase of the game gave us hope that our team will qualify to the semi-finals.
Zambia suffered a setback when Enock “Computer” Mwepu was injured in the early proceeding of the game and he was substituted. This, however, disturbed the tempo of the game.
Italy equalised in the 54th minute. Zambia kept on attacking their opponents, looking for the second goal. It was the fashionable Fashion Sakala who scored the second goal in the 85th minute, making it 2-1 for Zambia.
The goal by Fashion brought the Zambian fans in an exciting mood as the team was set to progress to the semi-finals of the lucrative football tournament.
As fate would have it, the 10 man Italy equalised through a free kick barely a few minutes to full time. At the end of the second half, the game ended in a 2 all. The game went into extra time to decide the winner. However, it was Italy which emerged victorious. Italy scored the winning goal through Luca Vido, who headed the ball in the net from a well-executed corner kick.
Zambia put up a spirited fight to win the match but to no avail. It was not just our day. In the tournament, Zambia topped Group C with six points, having beaten Portugal 2-1, Iran 4-2 and lost 1-0 to Costa Rica to wrap the first round.
In the group stage, Zambia edged Germany 4-3 in extra time after the two teams drew 3-3 in regulation or full time.
Zambia was the last African country to be booted out of the tournament. Guinea and South Africa were eliminated in the first round. On the other hand, Senegal was eliminated in the group stage after succumbing to a defeat to Mexico, losing 1-0.
Prior to participating in the World Cup football tournament, Zambia won the Under-20 COSAFA tournament in December 2016 and the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) tournament in March 2017. This is a great achievement. Accolade should go to the team for this.
Despite being booted out of the tournament by Italy, the Beston “Quicksilver” Chambeshi tutored side has made Africa and Zambia in particular proud through the team’s splendid performance. This could be attested by the thunderous welcome the team received from the Government officials, football administrators and the soccer fans at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on Wednesday June 7, 2017. Former president Rupiah Banda was at hand to welcome the Junior Chipolopolo Boys.
President Edgar Lungu, who is the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) patron, has lauded the team for the achievement. He has further implored the team to remain focused and continue working hard in their football career. To the lads, I say job well done. You are heroes and you have made us proud despite being eliminated in the quarter finals by Italy.
Elemiya Phiri, Lusaka