Zambia Under-23’s Olympic dream is looking bleak following a wrecking fall in Cairo on Tuesday evening.
Beston Chambeshi’s side suffered its biggest defeat of their three-year project when Nigeria rallied from one-down to crush them 3-1 in their penultimate Group C match at Salam Stadium.
A cool finish from Paston Daka put Zambia ahead in the 12th minute barely hours after landing from his base in Austria to join the cause at the 2019 U23 AFCON Egypt is hosting from November 8-22.
But Nigeria leveled four minutes later when Orji Okonkwo turned in the ball from an Ibrahim Sunusi corner.
Zambia goalkeeper Mangani Banda then could only watch as Kelechi Nwakali put Nigeria ahead in with a seemingly tame free kick in the 65th minutes .
Mangani was the villain yet again when Taiwo Awoniyi punished him for an ambitious surge outside his box giving him no time to recover.
Zambia are bottom of Group B with 1 point after drawing 0-0 with South Africa on November 9.
They must now beat third placed Cote d’Ivoire who have 3 points on November 15 and also hope that South Africa beat Nigeria for them to stand a chance of reaching the semifinals.
South Africa, who beat Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 in the early kickoff, lead Group B on 4 points, one ahead of Nigeria and The Junior Elephants heading into Friday’s final Group B fixtures.
The top three finishers at the tournament qualify to the 2020 Olympic Games.