SOCCER – The country’s national team Sihlangu Semnikati were simply not at the Somhlolo National Stadium yesterday afternoon.

Tactically clumsy, porously indecisive and out of their breaths, the nations’ pride succumbed to one of their worst defeats  in recent times against a not-so-mean Zambian squad in the first leg encounter of the 2018 CHAN qualifiers. It was a nightmarish Sunday afternoon for the local supporters  as they watched in sheer agony as the visitors drilled in four magnificent goals past goalkeeper Sandile Nkomishi Ndzinisa.

Sihlangu resembled local giants Mbabane Swallows as the team’s Coach Pieter De Jongh fielded nine of the team’s players in the starting XI. The players were complemented by Royal Leopard duo of defender Machawe Dlamini and Siboniso ‘Rocco’ Malambe who was, however, rested in the first half. 

Chipolopolo, which has one foot in the next round of competition, stamped their authority from the onset and proved they mean serious business as early as the 17th minute.

This was through striker Clatous Choma who headed home a well-played cross from a troublesome Augustine Mulenga on the left flank. Sihlangu almost responded six minutes later through skipper Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze but his effort was saved by Zambian goalkeeper Toaster Nsatamba.

The visitors doubled the advantage three minutes later through midfielder Brian Mwila who blasted home another low cross.  It was the second goal that saw the substitution of the ineffective ‘Rocco’ by the local technical bench.

The over 2 000 home fans were handed a bitter pill to swallow by the Zambians a minute into the second half as Chipolopolo made it three after being awarded a penalty which was converted by  Choma, completing a brace during the game. This was after Machawe fouled Ernest Mberwe inside the box. 

‘TT’ was unfortunate not to reduce the deficit in the 49th minute when his shot taken inside the box was again swallowed by the keeper. 

Zambia piled more pressure and eventually sent the team’s supporters out of the stadium in the 79th minute through a breathtaking free kick from fullback Frackson Kapumbu, which rested on the far corner leaving the Sihlangu goalpoacher gobsmacked. 


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