Beston Chambeshi made a robust defence of Chipolopolo’s form in Tuesdays 2-0 home loss to Tunisia and his decision not to start RS Berkane playmaker Clatous Chama and Zesco United midfielder Kelvin Mubanga.
Chipolopolo chased shadows heading into the opening hour of their 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup Group B qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola trailing one-nil after Wahbi Khazri put Tunisia ahead through a 7th minute penalty.
“We conceded an early goal which was a penalty and when you concede an early goal against a team like Tunisia, an experienced team with experienced players, I think that is where we got it wrong,” Chambeshi said.
But the arrival of Chama and Mubanga in the 58th minute for Lubambo Musonda and Edward Chilufya changed the complexion of the game as Chipolopolo pressed well into the 84th minute.
Chama had a 68th minute close-range header from a Mubanga cross flapped-out by Tunisian goalkeeper Ben Mustapha while a lively Jimmy Mukeya who replaced Prince Mumba in the 79th minute shot narrowly wide in the 82nd minute.
“We came into the game in the second half and we had to attack,” Chambeshi said.
But Anis Ben Slimane stunned Chipolopolo with a stoppage time goal to see Tunisia collect maximum points and stay top of Group B on 6 points while the hosts suffered their first loss in the qualifiers but remain second on 3 points despite the home defeat.
“At least we had some few chances’ again but couldn’t utilize them, then our defence went to sleep at the end and they scored which isn’t good for the team,” Chambeshi said.
“Overall the boys fought in the game and wanted to collect maximum points but that is the way football is.”
Meanwhile, Chambeshi said the decision not to start Chama was tactical citing fitness concerns after he only joined the team on Sunday evening after missing the 2-1 away win over Mauritania due to a visa hitch.
Chama was a direct replacement for Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu who returned to England after the Mauritania game to avoid undergoing a 10-day mandatory quarantine for arrivals from Zambia that is on the Covid-19 Red-Listed nations.
“We had to take a risk by starting him later. We did not want to lose one of our key players and had to keep him on the bench. That is why we gave him 35 minutes to play; that was our game plan,” Chambeshi said.