KIGALI - THE decision to include two veteran Zambian internationals and Africa Nations Cup gold medal winners in their Chan 2016 squad has paid off, as Isaac Chansa scored the decisive goal for Zambia to beat Zimbabwe in their opening game at Rwanda 2016.
Chansa and Chris Katongo both started the game for Chipolopolo and their role in guiding the younger players and adding a touch of class was evident for all to see.
It took just four minutes for the game’s opening scoring opportunity when Chris Katongo beat his marker at the near post and managed to turn a left wing cross towards goal with his head, but the ball was just wide of the goalposts.
Then Zambia made more inroads into the Zimbabwe defence in the 11th minute as Katongo slipped the ball to Mwape, but his shot at goal was off the mark as he shot while slightly off balance.
Two minutes later Zimbabwe got their first shot at goal when Ronald Chitiyo found space inside the danger area and fired in a powerful shot only for the Zambia goalie to save well.
Inside the final ten minutes of the first half, Chansa let rip with a powerful effort from long range, but the ball just flew wide of the target.
Zimbabwe should have scored in the 45th minute when Edmore Chirambadare got in behind his marker and burst into a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Banda, but his left footed shot had too much curl on it and the ball swerved wide of the far upright.
The second half started with some intent and there were some half chances in the first few minutes, but in the 58th Chansa made certain with an acrobatic volley at the far post following an excellent, curling cross to the far post.
Zimbabwe should have equalised in the 72nd minute when they got into space on the left side of Zambia’s 18 area and flashed a shot across goal, but the ball could not find the inside of the far post.
Zambia held onto their slender lead and scored a valuable three points in their opening game of the tournament.
Zimbabwe: 1.Donovan 2.Muroiwa 3.Mushure 4.Mhlanga 6.Zvirekwi; 8.Takwara (Mutuma 72’); 9.Madhananga 11.Chitiyo 21.Chirambadare (Mudehwe 81’) 10.Mutizwa 18. Zekumbawira Zambia: 1. J. Banda 21.Musekwa 3.Kabamba 13.A. Chama 5.Mfune 14.Chirwa 17.Chama Jr 23.S. Phiri 8.Chansa (Luchanga 59’) 10.Mwape (Sautu 87’) 11.Katongo