It was a richly deserved victory for Abel Xavier’s well-drilled side as they taught a listless Chipolopolo a footballing lesson in a match played before a sparse crowd at Ndola’s Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
The home side were under pressure to deliver, in light of the junior team’s recent heroics – winning the Under-20 Africa Cup and reaching the last eight of the Under-20 World Cup.
Uncertain in defense, slow in midfield and completely bereft of ideas in attack, Zambia’s performance was one to forget and has somewhat added fuel to growing murmurs from soccer fans to replace the entire senior team with the under-20.
The Wedson Nyirenda-tutored side had their first notable chance in the 24th minute when Fwayo Tembo fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box after being set up by Salulani Phiri. The same player then tested the Mozambican goalkeeper with the long-range freekick which he parried to safety.
The home side continued to underwhelm, forcing Nyirenda into an early tactical change – replacing defensive midfielder Phiri with the mare attack-minded John Ching’andu. The change however failed to spark the Chipolopolo into life.
Nyirenda made another change at the start of the second half, bringing on the pacey Dave Daka at the expense of the anonymous Collins Mbesuma.
The home side’s best chance of the match arrived in the 55th minute when Kondwani Mtonga’s shot from inside the box came back off the post.
As the match wore on, Mozambique grew into the contest with their skipper Elias Pelembe causing the home defense all kinds of problems with his clever runs and precise precise passing.
The Bidvest Wits playmaker almost scored in the 88th minute when a Fackson Kapumbu mistake put him through on goal but Kennedy Mweene made a stunning save from a one-on-one situation. Two minutes later, the same player instigated the move that ended with Latifo tapping home at the near post to seal the three points for the visitors.
Mozambique’s victory means they take early command of Group K while the home side will take up the bottom slot.