COSAFA Cup: Zambia coach blames early missteps for shocking defeat to Kenya


COSAFA Cup: Zambia coach blames early missteps for shocking defeat to Kenya

Festus Chuma 10:08 - 28.06.2024

Emerging Stars shined as Zambia coach Chisi Mbewe vowed comeback after early defeat in COSAFA Cup opener.

Zambia coach Chisi Mbewe expressed disappointment after his team’s 2-0 loss to Kenya in their opening match of the 2024 COSAFA Cup Group B, which took place on Thursday, June 28, at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The Chipolopolo, entering the tournament as the defending champions, found themselves on the back foot early in the game, which ultimately shaped the outcome of the contest.

From the onset, Kenya established a high tempo, quickly gaining the upper hand.

The Emerging Stars' aggressive approach paid dividends in the eighth minute when Patrick Otieno was fouled in the box, leading to a penalty that Austine Odhiambo converted confidently.

Not long after, Kenya doubled their lead, with Otieno again playing a pivotal role, this time by scoring a goal assisted by Benson Omalla.

“I would say we had a great game. We just unfortunately that we allowed goals in the early minutes of the game. But I think the team played well. We created chances. We were just unfortunate, and may I also even say congratulations to, to Kenya," the Zambia coach said after the match.

Despite the early setbacks, Mbewe remained optimistic about Zambia's ability to rebound in the tournament.

“It was an interesting game and being it a first game for us, we just need now to go back into training, we come back for the second game and ensure that we come back to our winning ways,” he stated.

However, the coach was critical of his team's execution, particularly in defense and their ability to capitalize on offensive opportunities.

“I think what we need to improve. Like I mentioned in the early minute of the game, I think we gave Kenya too many chances. I think the first goal, we did not balance well. That’s why we even caused that penalty.

The second goal, again, I think the balancing and defense was not [organized]. We did not do well. I think going forward, we just need to be solid in defense and again, upfront, we, we did not create so many chances," he explained.

Mbewe also highlighted the pressures of being the reigning champions, noting that every team comes into the game with the aspiration to defeat them.

“From the beginning of our preparation, we have reminded the team that it is not going to be an easy game. Knowing that we are the defending champions. I think teams will, will try to to beat the champions. But like I mentioned, I think two mistakes in this game that has caused us to lose. But I strongly believe that we will come back very strong,” he affirmed.

Looking ahead, Zambia is set to face Zimbabwe on Sunday in what is expected to be a highly competitive match.

The upcoming game presents an opportunity for Zambia to correct their course and reassert their championship credentials.

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