Patrick Phiri’s midweek 1-0 defeat away to Tanzania at the old National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday with his makeshift team has helped consolidate Africa Cup places for two players.
Barring injury, Zesco United’s duo of utility defender William Chinyama and midfielder Rainford Kalaba will certainly have a seat on the plane to Kumasi next January.
The duo showed they were a bar above the rest of the fringe players or journeymen Phiri assembled on this highly controversial friendly played on a Fifa date without any key foreign-based players.
How the result would have been different had Phiri had the services of Jacob Mulenga or Christopher Katongo or even a fit Collins Mbesuma been in the team.
However, Power Dynamos striker Francis Kombe I feel wasn’t given enough time after he was substituted late in the second half after gaining some momentum following a subdued start.
His replacement Nephias Banda of Angolan club Atletico Sport Aviacao showed little of the promise from his rip-roaring days at Power and Phiri must have regretted taking off Kombe too soon in that match.
Going back to the Zesco duo, Chinyama was outstanding on the left wing and should be good cover for Joseph Musonda of South Africa club Lamontville Golden Arrows.
How he will handle the big match temperament in Ghana will be an interesting prospect after some near-flawless displays over the last five months since making his debut against Congo-Brazzaville in an Africa Cup qualifier on June 2 in Chililabombwe on June 2.
Kalaba continued with his little engine that could performances in midfield that have played a great part in Zesco’s quest to their debut league win this season.
He was the king of midfield throughout the match and there is no doubt he is coming of age after a poor 2006 season both for club and country.
Meanwhile, there is something to smile about from Zambia’s modest showing.
They passed the ball so well on this artificial pitch without even having an hours feel of the pitch just 48 hours after landed and later informed they would face Tanzania on plastic.
Not since Nchanga Rangers beat Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa 2-0 in a CAF Cup, 2nd round match on May 6, 2000 in Johannesburg have I seen Zambian players pass the ball with passion.
However, slick passing gets you no goals and while it is a prime virtue of beautiful game, one needs some tactical discipline in defence and attack to be a winner.
I ‘am sure Faz and Phiri is looking forward to fielding a stronger side when Zambia embarks on a brief tour of Spain to play regional teams over the winter break starting on December 23.
Zambia’s next international friendly match after their Spain trip will an international friendly be against Tunisia on January 6 in Tunis.