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Equatorial Guinea claw back to stun Zambia with late equalizer

With the return of a passionate home crowd, Zambia’s Chipolopolo looked set to claim three points going into the final ten minutes of their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Equatorial Guinea but the Nzalang Nacional struck a leveler against the run of play to scrap a point on the road. Federico Bikoro headed in a corner kick from Jannick Buyla to give the Equatoguineans a point in their pursuit of Group B leaders Tunisia, moving them to within two points of the Carthage Eagles. The result leaves Zambia all but elminated with only two games left to play.

Unable to field star forward Patson Daka in the home fixture, Zambia were missing their top stars but had Rangers FC striker Fashion Sakala to try and fill the void. In the 13th minute, Sakala provided some excellent work down the right wing and picked out Kelvin Kampamba at the far post, but the midfielder’s shot was not cleanly struck and not a threat to Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesus Owono. Sakala was then set up by Clatous Chama in the 20th minute but his attempt at a finish went wide.

The hosts had a good buildup in the 38th minute for their best chance of the half when right back Benedict Chepeshi burst down the flank and floated a cross to the far post. Kampamba was there to cushion a header back to Larry Bwalya where the Simba SC player’s shot went off the post then off a diving Owono and out of play.

A breakthrough finally arrived in the second half to reward the pressure applied by Chipolopolo. Left back Prosper Chiluya fed a pass to Sakala at the corner of the Equatoguinean penalty area and the forward made an excellent turn past a defender as he received the ball. Taking his time as he moved in on goal, Sakala drifted by a desperately recovering defender before finishing hard and low past Owono for the opener in the 65th minute.

However, the Zambians took their foot off the gas a bit and allowed Equatorial Guinea to hang around, and not obtaining a second goal ultimately cost them. In the 82nd minute, the corner kick from Buyla was sent in and poor marking left Bikoro open, who delivered an excellent powerful header from eight yards out that beat Chipolopolo shot stopper Cyril Chibwe to silence the home crowd and send the Equatoguinean squad into enthusiastic celebration.

Missed opportunities will be what Zambian supporters see when they look back at where the qualifying campaign went wrong. Highlights from the match in Lusaka are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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