Collins Mbesuma @ SS com
Collins Mbesuma @ SS com

Mbesuma’s goal not enough as Zambia lose World Cup qualifier to Nigeria

Collins Mbesuma scored a second half goal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Nigeria on Sunday, but it was not enough for Zambia who lost 2-1 to Nigeria in front 40,000 fans at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

The visitors scored in the 32nd and 42nd minutes through Alexander Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho before Mbesuma pulled a goal back on 70 minutes.

Iwobi broke the deadlock when he fired home at the post following a pass from Simon Moses.

Iheanacho increased the advantage three minutes before the break following a good solo run that saw him prevent the ball from going over the right byline and rounded goalkeeper Mweene before firing home at the near post.

Mbesuma’s goal arrived when Kenneth Omeruo failed to control a floated cross by Fwayo Tembo, the burly forward firing home a powerful shot on the turn as he was being closed down by William Ekong.

Nigeria will have goalkeeper Carl Ikeme to thank for keeping out three close range efforts from Rainford Kalaba and second half substitute Jackson Mwanza.

Zambia national team coach said he was disappointed with the result but remained positive of the team’s ability to recover in upcoming matches.

“We are rebuilding the team and at the same time expecting to qualify for the Fifa World Cup. We have brought new players to the team and I think they blended well with the old players.

“But most of all I am happy with the response we got from our fans. After conceding those two goals they continued to support us. That means that we have real Chipolopolo supporters. They went on until the last minute. Even when we missed those chances they kept on chanting for us.

“But football being what it is, the result today went the other way. I would like to assure our fans that we will compensate this loss in upcoming matches and give them what they deserve.”

And Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr said the first half went according to plan.

“The result today is a reflection of what happened in the match. What happened in the first half is what we expected. We played well and we scored.

“In the second half Zambia was the better team. They pushed and pushed and they almost made it 2-2 but the spirit of our team is very good so we managed to defend until the end,” said Rohr.