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CV ZAM

The final games for Group B up next, once again all to play for as no team is yet certain of a place in the Quarter-Finals. Cape Verde would be through to the next round with a draw in the event that the group’s other fixture between Tunisia and DR Congo was also drawn. Zambia, winners in 2012 would need to take all 3 points to proceed to the last eight. The game was to be played at the Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin in worsening conditions as the game went on. Torrential rain made the pitch a farce at stages of the game but eventually the rain subsided and the game was able to be completed without any stoppages, which looked unlikely for stages in the game.

Cape Verde, by far the underdogs stated the game well, not seeming overawed by the occasion or their opponents. Indeed, earlier in the week coach Rui Aguas had spoken of making the Quarter-Finals as a minimum requirement for the tiny African island nation, showing a confidence reflected in his team’s play. Ryan Mendes stood out in the midfield, always positive in his play, looking to create in a side which has sadly lacked the killer instinct in front of goal in this tournament so far. Zambia also looked to attack in must win game for them, their best chance of the half falling to Evans Kangwa, following up a shot that Cape Verde goal-keeper Vozinha was unable to hold, but his shot was deflected well by the retreating Gege. Seconds later Zambian counterpart Rainford Kalaba dragged a shot wide inside the box when a goal looked imminent. Undeterred though, Cape Verde continued to look for a breakthrough also, Garry Rodrigues showing breath-taking speed to create space but put his shot disappointingly wide, much to his own frustration. A further brace of chances fell to the Blue Sharks before half-time, both from free-kicks, the first one headed woefully high and wide of the goal by Fernando Varela with the goal at his mercy.  The second a cleverly taken free-kick by Rodrigues, played across the goal and missed by everyone in the box, skidded inches wide. Half-Time and as things stood with Tunisia in the lead in their fixture with DR Congo, Cape Verde would be heading to the knockout stages.

With the rain pelting down at the start of the second half, conditions became very difficult for any kind of passing football to be played with large puddles appearing on the pitch and the bounce becoming increasingly unpredictable. It was still Cape Verde in the ascendency in the game, pushing for the elusive goal but to no avail, a real problem for this side who’s only goal at the competition has come from the penalty spot. Kennedy Mweene saved well from a free-kick but the majority of the long range shots that the Blue Sharks were reduced to, were unable to trouble him. As the weather improved Zambia grew into the game, themselves spurning too gilt-edged chances in succession. The first came with 15 minutes of the game remaining, Evans Kangwa side-footing wide from 12 yards out after great work from Chisamba Lungu. Then in injury time, Kangwa this time the provider dragged the ball back for substitute Mukuku Mulenga, who’s tame shot once again missed the target, the story of the game.

In the end the goal-less draw was of no use to either team, DR Congo’s equaliser against Tunisia meaning Cape Verde and Zambia both exit the competition. Both sides can point to a lack of clinical finishing as part of the reason for their exits, Honour Janza the Zambian coach found positives in his young side, hopeful they can become a force In African football over the coming years. Rui Aguas again lamented his side’s missed chances but remained proud of his players but for now we bid farewell to the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde and the Zambian Chipolopolo, both unable to re-produce stunning performances of recent years.