Zambia dug deep to salvage a 1-1 home draw against Kenya on Sunday in a dead-rubber played at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola to close their unsuccessful 2017 Africa Cup Group E qualifiers on a respectable note.
The home sides dominated Kenya but a a second half goal from Timbe Masika rattled the 2012 champions before Zambia captain Rainford Kalaba saved the day with a late equalizer.
Zambia stuttered throughout the game with the usually prolific striker Winston Kalengo out-of-sorts and missing the teleplay he has enjoyed with the absent Collins Mbesuma who was suspended for the game.
The first half was scoreless but Zambia enjoyed the lions-share of possession that they failed to convert into goals with Kalaba testing Boniface Oluoch from range in the 3rd minute but the Kenya goalkeeper saved the shot with ease.
Kalaba then put the ball through for Kalengo in the 23rd minute but the striker was sluggish and couldn’t find his way past David Owino.
Kenya had two great opportunities towards the end of the first half that ended scoreless both from Jesse Were who saw his 39th minute shot deflected for a corner and two minutes later fired high.
Timbe then put Kenya ahead after he chipped the ball over defender Simon Silwimba before further benefiting from some poor judgement by goalkeeper Jacob Banda who rushed out to try and mitigate the danger but it was too little too late.
Zambia then went into panic mode as they looked like facing the prospect of a second straight Group E defeat.
Fortune for Zambia came in the 86th minute when Kalaba tapped-in the ball from close-range off a short pass from Felix Katongo to see the host breathe a sigh of relief.