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Zambia and Tunisia fail to take advantage of Cameroon defeat

January 13, 2010

Zambia 1           Tunisia 1
Mulenga 19        Dhaouadi 40
Estadio Alto da Chela, Lubango
African Cup of Nations Group D
13th January 2010

Zambia and Tunisia had to settle for a draw in a frantic game in Lubango, when either side could have seized the initiative after Cameroon were surprise losers to Gabon in the earlier Group D match. It could have been another shock result as Zambia took an early lead and were by far the more threatening throughout.

Mulenga gave Zambia a deserved lead

The Chipolopolo came close to scoring inside of ten minutes when midfielder Rainford Kalaba, who impressed all night, fired a shot into the side-netting. Ten minutes later Zambia did take the lead; James Chamanga’s clever pass found strike partner Jacob Mulenga in the box and his low shot evaded Tunisia keeper Aymen Mathlouthi. The lead was well deserved after a positive start, while Tunisia looked a world away from the side that lifted the cup in 2004.

Full back Joseph Musonda was Zambia’s answer to Rory Delap, launching throws into the box at every opportunity, but with far less success. Despite being well below-par and seemingly overwhelmed by Zambia, the Eagles finally put together a worthwhile attack after 40 minutes, it was their best move of the game and produced the equaliser. After great play by Youssef Msakni down the left he pulled the ball back to Zouhaeir Dhaoudi who slammed the ball into the roof of an unguarded net.

Tunisia started the second half brightly but Zambia soon found their rhythm. A deep cross into the Tunisian penalty area set up Kapamba Chintu but his header went wide after some inexplicable high-risk defending. Karim Haggui was largely dominant at the back for the Eagles but could only watch on with 20 minutes left as Kalaba missed another good headed opportunity following a fine cross by Christopher Katongo. The second half was not as energetic as the first and the game seemed to be fizzling out. Tunisia introduced Chaouki Ben Saada with nine minutes to go but it was too late for the creative midfielder to have any impact. Mulenga almost scored again but his shot only found the outside of the net.

With five minutes to go Zambia substitute Emmanuel Mayuka thought he had scored the winner with his first touch but his header was ruled out for infringement. The low-point of the game, but also the most laughable, was provided by Tunisian Khaled Korbi who dived to the ground cluching his face after him and Felix Katongo squared up to each other. The final chance again fell to Zambia, a ferocious Kalaba free kick was parried into Christopher Katongo’s path but his header went over.

Zambia, who came into the game as underdogs, played terrifically well and were unlucky not to win. Tunisia will need to improve when they face Cameroon-conquering Gabon on Sunday, while Zambia will be confident against one of the tournament favourites.

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