Player Rater: Zambia v Lesotho



ImageZambia demolished Lesotho 4-0 to reclaim top slot in the Brazil 2014 World Cup Group D Qualifiers.

In a game where more than four players are contenders for man of the match, takes a look at hoh the players fared.

Danny Munyao-6.5-Did not look fazed coming in for suspended Kennedy Mweene. It helps that in 2007 the Red Arrows goalkeeper was at the World Youth Championship in Canada. Munyao was getting into company he was familiar with and territory chartered by his mind. He dealt with everything thrown at him comfortably. In the second half, he got down very well to stop a low shot. He even lifted his right leg in showmanship. Munyao was that at home.

Davies Nkausu-6-The SuperSport Utd defender had a decent game. He was comfortable on the ball and superior in aerial tussles. Nkausu moved in front well too. He whipped in some wicked crosses in the Lesotho area. He looked what his potential demands.

Chisamba Lungu-7.8-Again deployed as a makeshift left back but passed with flying colours. The Russia based showed his sultry skills. He started from the back. Drifted into midfield when need arose. He was tight in the tackle. Until, he has a place in midfield, no one will complain if Chisamba continues to thrive in defensive positions. This time he did not take eternity on the ball but used it well. He provided an assist with a pin-point cross that Chris Katongo nodded home for Zambia’s second. When Fwayo Tembo came on, it was party time down that left flank.
Hichani Himoonde-6.5-He was the most experienced member of the back four. He mopped well. Himoonde’s criticism in the past was that he hides his deficiences in the injured Stophila Sunzu. But Himoonde despite not getting a lot of game time at his Congolese club Mazembe, showed he is his own man. Clinical both in the air and on the ground. Assured performance.

Kondwani Mtonga-6.5-Converted from his holding role in his club football to central defence just like the newly enamored Sunzu he replaced. The Zesco Utd skipper gave a performance that left doubting pundits purring with satisfaction. He looked slow but commanding. Never really tested one on one, but Mtonga headed well, cleared his lines smartly and moved the ball upfield brilliantly. This performance will stand Mtonga in good stead against a much stronger Sudan.
Nathan Sinkala-8.2-Every time Nathan Sinkala is given full marks comparisons with his more illustrious elder brother Andrew who turned out for European champions and treble winners Bayern Munich abound. Nathan has come out from the shadows of his Germany based sibling. It helps that Nathan comes from a family that breathes football. His dad Moffat Mutambo was a general of the game. Nathan was masterful here. His mixed it up. Guile, vision, sometimes keeping it simple but effective. Given that the opposition was limp, I may over exaggerate just how good Sinkala was, but he was superb.

Mukuka Mulenga-8.5-my joint man of the match alongside Jacob Mulenga. Football was called the beautiful game because of its ability to thrill. Mulenga embodied that. He was exciting to watch. On the back foot, he looked tactically sound, on the front foot, Lesotho wished he the Power Dynamos play maker had not been born. He was a constant threat threading seamless passes and quick change of pace on two legs that looked like powered by subsided fuel. If scouts watching at Estadio de la Levy they could have fallen over each other  scrambling for Mukuka’s signature particularly on his second half showing. Did somebody say Rainford Kalaba was missed? Mukuka is here.
Noah Chivuta-6-A surprise starter that did not cover himself in glory. Chivuta is a committed worker with a lovely sweet left foot. But his best days look like are now in the archives.His passing was erratic and had to be substituted by Fwayo Tembo. Why Herve Renard decided to play with a handbrake by starting Chivuta as a deep lying midfielder with Sinkala-effectively duo defensive midfielders against such modest opposition beats the mind. Overall, he whipped in a drew balls for Mbesuma and Jacob

Chris Katongo-7.6-the captain’s best game in Chipolopolo colours since the 1-0 win over Ghana at this same stadium. He was lively through-out. No doubt Katongo has been a hardworker even when his performances have plummeted but this is the sort of performance that earned him the vote for 2012 Africa BBC player of the year. He scored an excellent header and set up the opening goal and was everywhere. If Chris had been playing like this no sane fan can call for his retirement. Keep the levels high Katongo!
Collins Mbesuma-7-Not his best match. The Orlando Pirates born again striker is slim by his huge frame body structure and was full of endeavour without threatening as well as he can. He got a poacher’s goal with his left foot after a rebound from substitute James Chamanga’s excellent work. Moments later Mbesuma could have had a brace but planted the ball over the bar when it looked easier to hit the net on 87 minutes.

Jacob Mulenga-8.5-definite most valuable player on the pitch. He was almost ostracized after the disastrous 2013 AfCON outing. When played in the centre-his favourite position-and not the flanks-Mulenga showed his quality. His first goal was classic. As good as a goal one can see anywhere in world football. The Utrecht star now the all-time Zambia goal scorer surpassing the great Kalusha Bwalya, received the ball from the ingenious Katongo. With his back leaning on the last Lesotho defender, Mulenga unleashed an unstoppable bicycle kick that flew in the net. The floodgates opened on forty minutes. The second was a good shot in the area in a melee. Doubter ate humble pie. Subbed late on but that hardly mattered, the lad coveted by Spanish La Liga teams had spoken on the pitch.


Fwayo Tembo-7-The Romania based showed he can be and should have been a starter in this match. He litterally took over the right flank with strong movement and dribbling. It looked like Fwayo was given the freedom to frequent and bamboozle Lesotho. One can only fathom his impact had he  had played from the first whistle. Fwayo is direct. The lethargic first half cried for players to take the game to Lesotho not making sideward passes and fluffing passes!

Bornwell Mwape-too late to classify but had two good chances to write his name on the score sheet. A good move to play him even if it was a cameo. His confidence will soar.

James Chamanga-7- in that one move that saw him round the keeper and rattle the post the China export showed he has plenty to offer yet. Even if I had expected to see Emmanuel Mayuka who is the future, and not Chamanga, who is nearing his past, the Lusaka groomed justified his selection. It was a tough one considering that Mayuka had arrived earlier in camp but Chamanga has been in a rich goal scoring form in China.

Herve Renard-8-The Frenchman, Africa Cup winner 2012, eased pressure on himself after some indifferent run of results lately. This is win ranks among his best as Zambia boss. I was surprised with the cautious approach of playing the defensive minded Chivuta ahead of Tembo.

The first half was not so good as a result-Renard. But credit for converting Mtonga. The former Ghana assistant coach-or physical trainer- is superb at this. He turned Sunzu into a world class defender. Not Mtonga is the next in line from the Frenchman’s factory.

The subs were spot on this time. Now football is a pressure game. Criticism will come in the wake of poor results. Take it on the chin and respond with results like the 4-0 win over Lesotho. Even the very best in the business “Big Phil” Luis Scolari is lampooned in Brazil when the World Cup winner shows indecision in team selection and poor man-management.

That is the nature of the game. Zambians love Renard and respect his getting the first and only major trophy in the Africa Cup. Let the high standards be maintained starting with Sudan this Saturday and then getting a result in Kumasi against Ghana. World Cup qualification is in within sight especially if Zambia plays as well as the second half against hapless and little Lesotho.

The 43 year old Showed loads of love in training to players he retained in camp. That was cardinal. Moral was high. Not being austere all the time. Crucially, playing Jacob Mulenga in a central attacking position. That was the difference between the Afrisports groomed in Utrecht and Chipolopolo colours. It was like seeing Jacob Mulenga at Angola 2010. Let Renard smile a bit now. He did his job and Zambia is happy. Merci.
Fans -9-Special mention of  the fans who turned up and supported the team. First class. More against Sudan. Estadio de la Levy must be made a hostile hunting grou

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