Zambia, Malawi out of Challenge

National Stadium in Dar es Salaam

Border neighbours Malawi and Zambia who sparkled brilliantly during the group stage matches of the Challenge Cup crashed out of the run after losing quarterfinal ties to Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia, respectively, at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Malawi who fought gallantly found the tide was up to their nose when Cote d’Ivoire’s striker Teteh Kipre rounded off the entire defense before releasing a power-packed blockbuster that separated the teams, nine minutes to time.

The West Africans continued to fight for more goals as Malawi intensified struggle to pull an equaliser that never materialized.

Cote d’Ivoire now meet lucky winners Ethiopia in the first semifinal; clash on Friday at the same venue.

Cote d’Ivoire’s head coach Georges Kouadia thanked his players for winning the match as Malawi coach Kina Phiri said his boys did not deserve to lose.

After scrapping through the quarterfinal stage, Ethiopia prematurely sent packing Zambia to cruise into the semi-final of the Challenge Cup championship with a convincing 2-1 goals victory at the same venue in an earlier match.

Ethiopia, who looked like a rank outsider after qualifying into the last eight through a ‘rear door’, played impressively to shock the Chipolopolo boys who are heading home.

Tesfaye Alebachew broke the stalemate when he headed home Abebaw Butako’s curling corner kick after 18 minutes of play.

While the Zambians were still recovering from the early shock, Omod Okwury connected home Daniel Derebe’s tailor made pass after 25 minutes to increase the tally.

Just a quarter of an hour later Zambia suffered a huge blow when striker Thomas Nyirenda was sent off by Ugandan referee Ali Kalyango after collecting the second yellow.

Ethiopians took to the dressing rooms with huge psychological advantage while plotting a defensive game in the second half.

Zambians pressed hard to keep Ethiopia under pressure as the game resumed.

Their relentless attacking flair eventually paid off with a goal from Felix Sunzu who lobbied past hapless Ethiopian goalkeeper.

This was Sunzu’s fifth and last goal of the tournament when he combined well with Allan Mukuka.

It was a ‘brutal elimination’ taking into consideration of the efforts taken by the Zambian side that ended the preliminaries with unique unbeaten run to top Group A that comprised host nation Tanganyika, Burundi and Somalia.

Zambia’s Italian coach Dario Bonetti bemoaned of what he termed as poor officiating by the referee while his Ethiopian counterpart Iffy Onuora praised his boys for brilliant display.

Bonetti complained of Nyirenda’s red card as Zambia were forced to play with ten men on the field for 50 minutes of the game to lose composure.

Zambians elimination from the tournament has stunned most of the fans, especially after the team looked well set to make it to the final basing on their group stage performance.

This is the second time for Zambia to crash out of the quarterfinal stage following last year’s shootout elimination by Zanzibar who finished third placed.

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