Zambia lost 5-4 to Nigeria in the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Benguela on Monday night.
The game went to penalty shoot-out after a goalless 120 minutes.
Nigerian goalkeeper Victor Enyeama turned Africa Cup of Nations matchwinner by converting the decisive kick.
John Obi Mikel, Obafemi Martins, Obinna Nsofor and Osaze
Odemwingie also scored from the spot to give the ‘Super Eagles’ a
100 percent success rate from five kicks.
Thomas Nyirenda was the unconsolable Zambian at the end after
Enyeama saved his kick – the seventh of the shootout – and Nigeria
scraped through despite having Onyekachi Apam sent off during extra
The ultra-negative last quarterfinal of the biennial African
football showcase was a massive disappointment after victories for
Ghana, Algeria and Egypt in thrillers.
Defending champions Egypt made the penultimate stage a few hours
before Nigeria thanks to a 3-1 extra-time triumph over Cameroon
with 170-cap midfielder Ahmed Hassan scoring twice for his side and
once for his opponents.
Back in the knockout phase of the competition for the first time
since 1996, Zambia had to make two enforced changes from the side
that defeated Gabon to reach the quarterfinals as shock Group D
Defender Chintu Kampamba and midfielder Rainford Kalaba
collected two yellow cards each in the mini-league stage and young
French coach Herve Renard drafted in Hichani Himonde and William
Nigeria retained the starting line-up from their final pool
match against Mozambique that delivered an ultimately convincing
3-0 win and justification that they could go far in the tournament
after a sluggish start.
Jubilant that his pre-tournament promise of a quarterfinals
place had been met, Renard saw the game as a chance to embellish
his reputation amid reports that he desires a more attractive
African coaching post.
Rival coach Shaibu Amodu is 10 years older at 51 and under
constant stress from public and media criticism despite just one
competitive loss since taking charge of the national team a third
time a couple of years ago.
The countries had come face to face four previous times in the
Nations Cup with Nigeria winning two and Zambia one after a
goalless first meeting in Ghana 32 years ago.
And after a goalless first half in this central Angolan town it
was hard to fathom who would prevail this time and book a
semifinals date with the Black Stars of Ghana in Luanda on
Chelsea midfielder Mikel ended a lot of cagey early combat with
a sweetly struck drive after some slick passing, but Kennedy Mweene
dived swiftly to his left and pushed the ball away with a strong
Zambia became more adventurous as time passed and after Enyeama
rose to grasp a deep, dangerous cross, striker James Chamanga just
failed to connect with a threatening ball across the six-yard box.
It was not a half for the faint hearted with some borderline
tackling and by the break Zambians Felix Katongo, Himonde and
Joseph Musonda had been shown yellow cards by the Egyptian referee.
The second half began as the first ended with more than fouls
than thrills for a less-than-capacity crowd in the 20 000-seat
venue and Apam joined the yellow-card offenders via a rash tackle
Midway through the half and finally the crowd had something to
cheer as Yusuf Mohammed cleared off the line to rescue Nigeria and
hesitant captain Yakubu Aiyegbeni squandered a close-range
opportunity at the other end.
It was painful watching the closing stages of regulation time as
two teams far more concerned with not losing than winning rarely
mounted threatening attacks and full-time came without a goal.