Zambia ended their successful Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Comoros at the Malouzini Omnisports Stadium in Moroni on Saturday night.
Chipolopolo fought back from a goal down to salvage a point and end top of Group H ahead of fellow qualifiers Ivory Coast, with Patson Daka’s second-half equaliser cancelling out Benjaloud Youssouf’s opener on the stroke of halftime.
Zambia suffered an early injury blow when Kelvin Kapumbu took a blow to the head and had to be replaced by Benson Sakala in the 13th minute.
Comoros went on to dominate the first half and almost opened the scoring on 25 minutes through Ahmed Mogni, who saw his effort from a tight angle turned away by Zambian goalkeeper Tresford Mulenga.
Yet the Coelacanths were rewarded for their attacking persistence in the final minute of regulation time before the break, as Benjaloud Youssouf struck direct from a free kick to secure a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Zambia, after a quiet first half, grew as an attacking threat through the second and claimed an equaliser in the 71st minute: Benedict Chepeshi provided a fine low cross from the right by-line and Patson Daka finished with a brilliant first-time shot for 1-1.
On 80 minutes Chipolopolo were close to taking the lead, with substitute Emmanuel Banda presented with a great shooting chance, but he was denied by a sharp save from goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina.
Ultimately the teams settled for a 1-1 draw, with Zambia able to celebrate their qualification to the Nations Cup, while Comoros came home in third in the group, with Lesotho in fourth.
Comoros (1) 1 (B. Youssouf45’)
Zambia (0) 1 (Daka 71’)
COMOROS: Ben Boina, Abdallah (Zaid 86’), Ahmada, Soilihi, Bakari (Kari 85’), M’Madi (Aymeric 67’), Bachirou, Bourhane (Sanali 73’), B. Youssouf, Mogni, I. Youssouf (Vouama 73’)
ZAMBIA: Mulenga, Chepeshi, F. Musonda, Kabwe, Sunzu (Mafwenta 84’), Kangwa, Kapumbu (Sakala 13’), Bwalya (E. Banda 67’), L. Banda (Kangwa 84’), L. Musonda (Chanda 84’), Daka