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Daka and Mwepu provide class as Zambia snatch crucial road victory in Mauritania

Following a long period of disappointing results that included a premature shock exit at the 2021 COSAFA Cup, Zambia’s Chipolopolo gave their supporters an outstanding performance on the road in their FIFA World Cup qualifying 2-1 defeat of Mauritania in Nouakchott on Friday. Zambia’s English Premier League stars, Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu, were instrumental in raising the quality of play and their return to the national team setup boosted the visitors to victory. With the win, Zambia join Tunisia at the top of Group B and look to be the most likely to challenge for the group winner spot.

The key to the match was an excellent start for Zambia, who refused to sit back in the early stages and got the opening goal they wanted in the 10th minute. 20-year-old Kabwe Warriors player Prince Mumba, who turned in a standout performance, provided the vision when he lobbed an excellent pass that went just beyond a Mauritanian defender. Recent Brighton signing Enock Mwepu took the ball down brilliantly and struck a low shot that beat Mauritania keeper Namori Diaw to stun the hosts. A few minutes later it should have been two goals for Zambia when Daka executed a combination pass with Edward Chilufya, but the Leicester City forward’s shot was well saved by Diaw.

Struggling to get going in the opening fifteen minutes, the hosts found their footing and began to have the better of play, especially after coming out of the halftime break down 1-0. Attacking player Adama Ba, currently a free agent at club level after a stint with RS Berkane in Morocco, was especially dangerous with his dribbling and pace and fired a shot into the side netting in the 48th minute.

Zambia stepped their game up for isolated stretches and the early portion of the second half was an example. Daka did not score but was brilliant in the buildup, and his combination play with Boyd Musonda was particularly dangerous. Musonda created the second goal when he executed a combination with Daka to get free on the left wing and crossed low, where Mumba met the ball with a late run and applied the finish to make it 2-0 in the 57th minute.

Mauritania became more threatening and their desperate efforts to get back into the match finally bore fruit. In the 69th minute Mohamed Yali Dellahi lofted an early ball into the box that found substitute Amadou Niass. The Egyptian based forward took the ball down and advanced in on goal before calmly finishing past Cyril Chibwe in the Zambian goal.

However, the comeback was not meant to be despite some close calls for the Zambian defense. Solomon Sakala came up with a crucial block to deny a second goal for Niass late on and the Chipolopolo held on for the crucial three points. Highlights of the match are in the link below.

FIFA TV Highlights

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