Zambia needed a late Spencer Sautu goal to earn a 1-1 draw against Guinea in Group D of the TOTAL African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon on Saturday.
The midfielder headed in the equaliser with just three minutes remaining at the Limbe Stadium to rescue the tie for the Chipolopolo.
This was after Syli National midfielder Victor Kantabaduno scored what looked like the winner for the West Africans in the 58th minute until Sauta’s intervention restored parity.
The result means both Zambia and Guinea maintain their places at the top of the group with four points apiece, having won their opening matches last Tuesday.
The game was fiercely contested from the start with both sides keen on winning the match to seal their place in the knock- out stage of the competition.
Sylli National goalkeeper Moussa Camara nearly gifted Chipolopolo with the lead after he rushed out of goal to grab a ball and made a dreadful hash of dealing with it, spilling to the feet of Emmanuel Chabula.
But the onrushing Zambia striker slipped before he could fire, allowing defender Mohammed Traore to clear the ball in the goal-line on five minutes.
Camara made amends in the 43rd minute for his earlier slip up by diving at full length to parry away a goal-gound header from Paull Katema following a free-kick from the right.
The two sides returned from the break determined to open the scoring with end-to-end attacks and just before the hour mark when the Zambians failed to clear their lines Kantabaduno slipped through.
The substitute finished off with a flicked shot in the box to give the Syli National the lead despite the Chipolopolo putting up a good display.
The game then turned into a physical display with both sides unyielding which resulted in several infringements.
The southern Africans poured their men forward and were rewarded in the 87th minute when Sauta jumped highest to nod in from left-back Zachariah Chilongoshi’s cross.
Zambia will play Namibia in their final group game at the Limbe Stadium on Wednesday while Guinea travel to the Stade de la Réunification in Douala to face Tanzania in the matches that will be played simultaneously.
What they said
Milutin Sredojevic (Coach, Zambia)
We wanted to win but managed a draw against a strong Guinea team. I am happy that we created more scoring chances today than we did in our first game against Tanzania and the small details basically decided the match. It has been a clash of titans.
Mohamed Kanfory Bangoura (Coach, Guinea)
We got into the game with the strategy of dominating possession, but Zambia played well. I am satisfied with the draw because it places us in a good position going into the last group game against Tanzania.