CHIPOLOPOLO defender Stopilla Sunza has received praise for his impeccable perfomance at the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations as Zambia sweated to walk away with a point from their encounter with DR Congo.
Last night at the Laurent Pokou Stadium in Ivory Coast, Zambia was welcomed back to the tournament after missing out on the completion for three consecutive time, and boy! was it a welcome.
Congo unleashed Rhumba Music as Zambia danced to the tune and sweated for their draw.
The Leopards charged like the big cats they are but were unlucky on target as they either misfired, missed chances or got blocked by the defence led by Sunzu.
Zambian Goal Keeper Lawrence Mulenga also made a couple of good saves while Frankie Musonda also took charge of the backline.
The opening match for the two neighbours was not without drama as the 23rd-minute saw Kings Kangwa netting a goal for Zambia, capitalizing on a quick through-ball assist from Patson Daka.
The scoreboard read Congo 0-1 Zambia as DR Congo goalkeeper Mpasi-Nzau found himself out of position to clear the ball which went out but Daka utilised the opportunity for a quick throw in, and Kangwa expertly chipped the ball past the scrambling defense.
However, just four minutes later, Congo retaliated with a swift response. Yoane Wissa found the back of the net, leveling the score at 1-1 in the 27th minute, setting the stage for an intense battle.
As the match progressed, tension soared when a penalty was awarded to Congo in the 60th minute after a supposed handball by Tandi Mwape inside the box.
The referee Bamlak Tessema Wayesa, was set to give Congo a Penalty, However Zambian fans were given a sigh of relief as the mix up left him uncertain about the decision.
After consulting the VAR, the spot kick was cancelled leaving the score deadlock at 1-1.
The controversial VAR intervention added an extra layer of drama to an already electrifying match, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.
With majority of the players getting their first experience at the continental showpiece, it was a fair result for the Chipolopolo as fans hope for their next encounters to be better.
Zambia now faces wounded Tanzania in their second match on Sunday. Tanzania was subjected to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Atlas Lions of Morocco, who now lead group F.
By Moses Makwaya
Kalemba January 18, 2023