Fashion Sakala scored a second half goal to hand the Zambia U23 national soccer team the advantage in the 2019 U23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier after they beat Malawi 1 – 0.
Head coach Beston Chambeshi who joined the team yesterday in Malawi after seeing his team Nkana qualify to the quarter finals of the CAF Confederation Cup started with an attacking line-up that had France based Emmanuel Banda on the bench as the technical bench seemed spoilt for choice.
The young Chipolopolo controlled the game in the first five minute but Malawi went on the ascendancy after that as they created more chances going forward but were lacking the finishing touch.
Zambia on the other hand struggled in the final third and were not working the Malawi keeper and ended the first half with only two shots on target when Patson Daka saw his point blank header saved before Kingsly Kangwa had his shot from the rebound blocked by the keeper from close range in the 44th minute.
The Solomon Sakala captained team looked a different side in the second half as they took the game to the visitors. Enock Mwepu was seeing more of the ball with Fashion Sakala, Patson Daka and Harrison Chisala benefiting with good runs that were cutting through the Malawian defense.
Fashion was unfortunate to see his effort come off the upright with the goalkeeper beaten in the 74th minute but he made amends three minutes later when he rose high to head home from a corner to give Zambia the lead.
The Zambian lads did not seat back and were pressing for a second and could have added a second when shot in the last minute was cleared off the line with the goalkeeper beaten.
The two teams play the return match on Sunday at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
The winner over the two legs will play the winner between Burundi and Congo Brazaville in the penultimate round of the Africa Cup qualifiers.
The U23 Africa Cup to be played later this year will serve as the qualifying platform for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Zambia U23 XI
Mangani Banda – Shemmy Mayembe, Kepson Kamanga, Solomon Sakala, Mosese Nyondo, Boyd Musonda, Kingsly Kangwa (Lameck Banda), Harrison Chisala (Biston Banda), Enock Mwepu, Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala (Emmanuel Banda)