By MICHAEL MIYOBA
BARELY three days after saving the Chipolopolo boys from losing to Namibia in the 2019 group K Cameroon AfCON qualifiers, Orlando Pirates striker, Justine Shonga scored the only goal of the game as Zambia beat Gabon 1-0 in an international friendly match played last evening at Stade Lamite in Libreville.
Shonga beat Gabonese shot stopper Nze Donald with a low shot after benefitting from Bruce Musakanya’s cross in the 16th minute.
Chipolopolo coach Sven Vandenbroek made 10 changes to the team that started against Namibia with midfielder Salulani Phiri the only player who had started the AfCON qualifier against Namibia.
Toasta Nsabata replaced Kennedy Mweene in goal as Gideon Sichone, Lawrence Chungu, Isaac Shamujompa and Luka Banda handled the defence, replacing Stophila Sunzu, Solomon Sakala, Lawrence Mulenga and Kabaso chongo respectively.
Enock Mwepu and Lubambo Musonda controlled the midfield with Salulni Phiri as Shonga, Musakanya and Cletus Chama replaced Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala and Rainford Kalaba upfront.
The Chipolopolo dominated play in the first half with 55 percent of ball position and three shots on goal compared to the two shots on goal by the home team.
The victory was Vandenbroek’s first win as Chipolopolo head coach after his appointment as Zambia national team coach in June.
Meanwhile, speaking before playing Gabon, Vandenbroek said he was impressed with the work ethic exhibited by Chipolopolo players who were summoned for camp.
He noted that he was disappointed that the team failed to collect maximum points in Namibia and missed out on reducing the gap between Zambia and the two group K leaders, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique who are on four points each.
“I was disappointed because we dint win against Namibia. A win would have reduced the gap to one point, but I was satisfied with the reaction after we went one nil down. We didn’t lose our mind, we tried harder to get the equalisers and in the end we deserve the draw and the subs who came in they did very well,” Vandenbroek said.
He added that Zambia would qualify for the 2019 Cameroon AfCON despite having failed to beat Namibia.
“The October game is crucial and I’m sure what we did in training was a start unfortunately we play Guinea on Wednesday which shows that we will not have enough to prepare but we will continue in this way even with a draw last Saturday I’m convinced that qualifying is possible. We will manage to qualify for the AfCON,” Vandenbroek said.