Emmanuel Mayuka came off the bench on Sunday to convert a dramatic last minute penalty to send Napsa Stars to a historical debut CAF Confederation Cup qualification at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Napsa rallied from 2-1 down at home to finish 2-2 against Gor Mahia of Kenya to qualify 3-2 on aggregate to next month’s group stage after the first leg 1-0 away in Nairobi on February 14.
But it was Gor Mahia hit the ground running after flying in from Nairobi just three hours before kickoff and made a statement in a four-minute goal fest after the first quarter.
In the 17th minute, Samuel Onyango punished Napsa defender Luka Banda for a poor clearance after the ball fell into his path for him to fire in the opening goal from just outside the area.
Napsa replied almost immediately in the 19th minute through an unmarked Austin Banda who was lurking on the far post when he tapped in Danny Silavwe’s cross.
The goal fury ended in the 21st minute when Clifton Miheso capitalized on a poor clearance by Dickson Chapa to volley in the Kenya giants second goal that first hit the upright before rolling across the line leaving Napsa goalkeeper Rabson Muchelenganga sprawling on the floor.
Gor continued to look like the side most likely to score in the second half.
But they were guilty of elementary attacking particularly in the 61st minute when John Macharia elected to shoot wide in front of an inviting goal after beating Muchelenganga.
However, two Napsa substitutes saved the day, albeit in stoppage time, after Mayuka replaced Bornwell Mwape in the 40th minute, and Jimmy Mukeya came on for Silavwe in the 61st minute.
Mukeya was tripped in the box by Charles Momanyi deep into the four minutes of stoppage time and Mayuka stepped up to send Gor Mahia goalkeeper Geoffrey Ochieng the wrong way steer Napsa through to the league phase that kicks off on March 10.
It was a historical moment for Napsa who became the first Zambian club to qualify to the group stage on the first attempt.
Meanwhile, Nkana will be hoping to join Napsa later tonight away in Morocco against Tihad Casablanca whom they beat 2-0 at home in Kitwe on February 14.
Nkana need a draw to join their compatriots to secure their third group stage appearance.
The CAF Confederation Cup group draws will be held on February 22 in Cairo.