2005 bronze winners, Benin, shared the spoils against 2017 winners Zambia 1-1 in their opening Group C encounter of the 2023 TotalEnergies Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations on Monday in Egypt. Rodolfo Aloko opened the scoring for Benin 11 minutes after the restart at the Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria but there was an instant reply from second-half substitute Rickson Nga’ambi. Both teams are level on points in Group C and Benin will face Tunisia on February 24 before ending their group campaign against Gambia on Feb 27. Meanwhile, Zambia will face-off against Gambia and Tunisia on the same dates.
Despite both sides enjoying plenty of chances in the first half, Zambia’s display was disjointed and this forced coach Chisi Mbewe to make changes. Winger Chipyoka Songa and Charles Majapa Mumba were withdrawn for Emmanuel Mukosha and Ng’ambi to add a bit energy to the game.
Benin were very intense, fast and aggressive on the ball. Striker Rodolfo Aloko gave Benin a lead in the 57th minute from an excellent ball from Rabiou Sankamao but it was short lived after Derrick Bulaya found Ng’ambi in the box.
Substitute Rickson Ng’ambi equalised for Zambia to salvage a point for the Southern Africa champions in a disjointed performance.
The Zambians improved after their equaliser and came close through Kingston. Zambia only came to life after Aloko’s goal as they showed more purpose to their game.
Late in the game, Kingstone Mutandwa replaced Peter Chikola with the boys from Lusaka pushing for a winning goal.
Regrets – The Cheetahs dominated at the Alexandria Stadium but failed to see off the match allowing the Chipolopolo to snatch an important point in Group C on Tuesday. The Chipolopolo will have to be more focused when they play The Gambia in their penultimate group match on Friday, 24 February at the Alexandria Stadium.
Player Of The Match
Francisco Dokou Dodo (Benin) – The West Africans dominated possession and the chances but lacked the cutting edge to convert their numerous opportunities at the Alexandria Stadium. The No 8 who is just 18 years old exemplified why their manager decided to play a 5-man midfield.
Benin: Agossa Dava (GK); Kader Malik, Tamimou Ouorou, Abdoul Rachid; Edou Farid, Hassane, Dokou Dodo, Rabiou Sankamao; Tessilimi; Aloko, Bawa Samidou.
Subs: Seibou, Dognon, Alitonou, Ibrahim, Tongui.
Zambia: Jeban (GK); Lombe, Nsiku, Mpande, Chulu; Chipyoka, Kanda, Chikola; Kumwenda; Mumba, Bulaya.
Subs: Ng’ambi, Mukosha, Mutandwa.
• Benin hasn’t won any of their opening matches in three appearances.
• Zambia are unbeaten in their 6 last matches in this competition since a 2-5 Group B loss against South Africa on 15 March 2015.
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