By MICHAEL MIYOBA
THE Zambia Under-23 national team has failed to qualify for the 2023 Morocco Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a 2-0 aggregate defeat to North African giants Egypt.
After losing 2-0 beating in the first leg of the final qualifying round played on Tuesday night in Cairo, the Junior Chipolopolo were held to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture played yesterday at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The Young Pharaohs had scored two second half goals to beat Zambia 2-0 in Cairo on Wednesday night thanks to goals from Ibrahim Adel and Abdurahman Atef.
In the home fixture played in Ndola, Zambia needed to score three unanswered goals to realise the dream of qualifying for the continental championship.
However, the Junior Chipolopolo who earlier watched the senior squad humiliate Lesotho 2-0 in South Africa, struggled to bounce back from the defeat recorded in Cairo to miss out on the AFCON which will be used as a qualifier for the 2024 Olympic Games.
The Junior Chipolopolo created few chances in both halves of the game as John Kosamu had the first attempt at goal with a shot which went over the bar.
Midfielder Miguel Chaiwa had an opportunity to redeem Zambia’s hopes a minute after the half hour mark but sent his freekick straight into the Egyptian wall.
In the second half, Power Dynamos speedy winger Joshua Mutale came close to breaking the deadlock but his strike could not bother Egypt’s young goalkeeper Hamza Hussein as it went over the bar.
As Zambia continued to hunt for goals, coach Osward Mutapa withdrew John Kosamu for Mannah Chiwisa while Happy Nsiku paved way for Martin Njobvu as Joshua Mutale was replaced by Jimmy Mukeya.
Mukeya came close in the 73rd minute with an attempt which went wide as Egypt held on to get a crucial draw and qualify for the 2023 AFCON.