Having lost their previous qualifier match to Sudan, Zambia’s Chipolopolos were under huge pressure to return to form during today’s critical match with an elite Ghana squad.
But just like their memorable ascent to the Africa Cup championship earlier this year, Zambia persevered and pulled out an unusual 1-0 victory, thanks to Christopher Katongo’s sharp strike following a deflected shot 18 minutes into the match and a stout defense that survived several close calls during a late surge from the Black Stars.
The victory over Ghana couldn’t have come at a better time: the team was playing in the inaugural game at the Levy Mwanawasa stadium, a 40,000-seat Chinese built arena in the Copperbelt city of Ndola, while earlier in the week the media discovered that Zambia’s outspoken French coach Herve Renard was very upset with the government for not having paid his salary for six months despite bringing home the AFCON title.
Ghana also had strong momentum coming into the match against Zambia, having throttled Lesotho 7-0 and looking for revenge for their defeat during the Africa Cup tournament. Before the match, AC Milan star and Ghana team captain Sulley Muntari said, “It’s not about revenge. It’s about us getting a good result over there. Football is serious but not anything like that. We want a good result.”
Nevertheless, the Chipolopolo defense proved that they still have some gas left in the tank, and that their hopes for an elusive World Cup slot are not yet dashed.