A very poor Chipolopolo Zambia laboured to the 2022 COSAFA Cup semifinal following a 5-4 post-match penalty victory over Botswana after playing out to a 1-1 full-time result at King nZwelithini Stadium in Durban.
The performance brought back memories of last year’s group stage exit at Nelson Mandela bay where Zambia exited the tournament with 1 point.
Even the manner of the 9th minute goal summarized the worrying stage of the Zambia national team that should not go without any highlighting.
A flash of fortune saw the ball hit Ricky Banda and then bounce off Botswana defender Tebogo Koelang in the 9th minute to see Zambia earn a one-halftime lead via an own-goal.
The rest of the half was not pleasing, surely not even to the eye of coach Aljosa Asanovic who is still stuck back in Zambia because of a South African visa hitch and must have had his head in his hands pondering about what he is just dealing with even from a remote location.
Botswana meanwhile equalized in the 53rd minute through Benson Mangolo as the Zebras looked better to watch than Zambia as the game dragged on.
They almost took the lead in the 78th minute but Tlebogo Kolagano shot was parried by Mwenya Chibwe and then Talane sent the rebound onto the post.
The post also conspired against Zambia in the last minute when Enock Sakala shot came off the woodwork and saw the game settled by spot kicks.
In the shoot-outs, Ricky Banda, Kelvin Kapumbu, Luka Chamanga and Saddam Yusuf all converted Zambia’s spot kicks.
Chibwe then threw himself in the line of fire of Mangolo’s spotkick and that is how Zambia qualified to Friday’s semifinals.
Zambia await the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal tie between Senegal and eSwatini.