The final score in the 2015 Africa of Nations Qualifier between Zambia and Mozambique in Ndola is not what any Zambian envisioned. This is because even before the game was played, the game had already been won by an outrageous 3-0 score line in the minds of most Zambian soccer fans. In a nutshell, we underrated Mozambique, from the by-ways and highways through to the pitch.
This was a Mozambique side that came with a game plan tucked under their armpit. The Black Mamabas coach Joao Chissano had an ace up his sleeve; he needed just to collect a point in Zambia and hope to win in the return later this year.
To achieve that Chissano packed his midfield with five men and deployed only one man upfront as decoy.
The four man defense was tactically astute and delivered the point by keeping Zambia at bay for ninety minutes as instructed by their coach. In a post match question I asked Chissano is his game plan was to park the bus and collect a point.
He however denied this and categorically stated that they came to win the game. If there is a lesson that the game taught Zambia is that against teams that pack their defenses, Honour Janza’s system becomes ineffective.
This in principle now demands that Janza should begin to work on an alternative system that should unlock the meanest of defenses that will not just attack.
Zambia played a 4-3-3 formation that failed to break the Mozambique defense. The alternative that could have proved effective was one that could have deployed wide players with a a lot of running.
Chris Katongo and Rainnford Kalaba were the wide players we used. Chris may no longer have the pace anymore, while Rainford (playing through a pain barrier) is not a natural out-and-out wide player. My take would be why not call a natural left winger in Clifford Mulenga? Nonetheless it is the Coach’s prerogative to call players.
As support to wingers we needed to have full backs joining in attack because this was against a team that had no intention of attacking anyway. Emmanuel Mbola at left back was a disaster and Kabaso Chongo at Right Back had an off day.
These attacking frailties on our wide lines meant we could only attack through the middle. And what weakened our attack through that area of the field again was fact that support striker (number 10 hypothetically) Given Singuluma was dropping too deep looking for the ball.
With a game against Cape Verde on Wednesday beckoning away in Praia, Zambia have their work cut out, more so that the Island nation beat Niger 3-1 away from home.
This is not time to call for the coach’s blood but what is needed is to work on aspects I have highlighted above.
Cape Verde will come firing on Zambia’s defense which was not tested on Saturday. Therefore a balance between Defense and Offence will be very important next time out!