Zambia: Zambia U17 Men’s National Team coach Ian Bakala believes his side is still in contention for a quarter-final spot despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria in the opening TotalEnergies U17 AFCON Group B match.
A 76th minute close-range goal by Favour Daniel gave the Golden Eaglets maximum points at the Mohamed Hamlaoui stadium in Constantine, but Bakala will be encouraged by a much-improved display that his boys put up against the five-time world champions.
“The game was tough; I give credit to Nigeria. They scored one, but I think we had chances where we could have scored, and we did well in the first game despite losing. Physically we were okay; towards the end, we could have even scored two or three goals. We saw how Nigeria was exposed at the back, and that is the reason why we had to make some tactical changes,” said Bakala.
“We are still in the competition. We have seen some mistakes, and we have to go and control them when we go back to training so that the team will be ready for South Africa, and you are going to see an improvement.”
Nigeria coach Nduka Ugbade said despite collecting three points at the expense of Zambia, and the Junior Chipolopolo matched the Golden Eaglet’s competitiveness in their second meeting at this level.
“African football has developed a lot, and CAF has done a lot to make the game very strong at the youth level, this is an example of another game that represents the final of the Cup of Nations, and I hope all the games can be like this,” Ugbade said.
In Sunday’s other Group B match, South Africa lost 2-0 to Morocco. Zambia will face South Africa on Wednesday, 3 May, while Nigeria will face the North Africans at the Mohamed Hamlaoui stadium on the same day.