Zambia suffered a setback in their quest to qualify for a maiden World Cup after suffering a surprise 2-1 defeat to Niger in Marrakech, Morocco.
Amadou Moutari and Boubacar Goumey scored first half goals for Niger with Leicester City striker Patson Daka netting a consolation after half time.
Chipolopolo coach Avram Grant effected changes to the starting 11 that played against Congo in the 4-2 win in Ndola which saw Lawrence Mulenga coming in for Francis Mwansa in goal while Tanzanian based midfielder Clatous Chama started ahead of Benson Sakala.
Despite the changes, it was Niger that drew first blood early in the match against the run of play.
Amadou Moutari’s mazy run into the Chipolopolo box exposed the defence for ball watching, before he delicately passed the ball to Boubacar Goumey, who quickly returned it back to the striker for him to place the ball into the back of the net.
Zambia never quite recovered from that early setback save from the time Italian based forward Lameck Banda struck the post from long range in the 26th minute.
That effort proved costly and just two minutes later, Goumey morphed from making an assist in the first goal to scoring a tap in to make it 2-nil.
This was after Issa Djibrilla beat Chipolopolo right back,Benedict Chepeshi, in the box before passing the ball into the path of Goumey who finished off the move with a simple tap-in from close range.
Niger went into the break with a surprise 2-nil lead over Chipolopolo.
The half time team talk by coach Grant seemed to have galvanised Zambia who scored five minutes into the second half.
Daka’s fine form continued for him as he struck his third goal in two matches.
Chepeshi who was at fault for Niger’s second goal turned into a hero when he overlapped to create a chance by crossing the ball into the eighteen yard area, which met the head of Fashion Sakala who nodded the ball to a more central position for a Chama shot but he was denied by the goalkeeper, which left Daka perfectly positioned to bundle in the rebound via a close range header.
Unfortunately for Zambia, after the goal, they failed to hit full gear and struggled to create clear cut chances to equalise.
Grant made some substitutions by bringing on captain Lubambo Musonda, who missed the previous match due to injury, for Klings Kangwa, with Zephaniah Phiri coming in for Rodrick Kabwe and Golden Mafwenta for Chama but the west Africans held out for a famous victory.
In the other match, Qatar World Cup semi-finalists Morocco defeated Tanzania 2-nil to top Group E.
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