Zambia has become the first team to qualify for the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations after a 3-3 draw away to Congo in Brazzaville on Sunday (8 September).
On the back of a 2-1 win from the leg in Lusaka last week, the Young Chipolopolo advanced 5-4 on aggregate.
Not even the sending off of striker Fashion Sakala following a second yellow card on 77 minutes could hamper the ambitions of the Zambians, as they held on to confirm their place at the finals for the successive time after their debut four years ago in Senegal.
The Congolese went up Guy Mbenza went up after 18 minutes from the spot before Enock restored parity on 33 minutes. The visitors stunned the homers with their second on 51 minutes courtesy Sakala, his fifth of the campaign. Temopele Medina levelled matters on 75 minutes to put the Les Diables Rouges back into contention.
On 80 minutes, Gaius Makota made it 3-2 for Congo but Mwepu completed his brace with the decisive equalizer five minutes from time.
The final six places will be determined on Tuesday, 10 September with the final tournament fixed for 8-22 November 2019 in Cairo, Egypt.
The top three finishers will qualify to represent the continent at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
- South Africa has one foot in the AFCON following a 5-0 win over Zimbabwe in the first leg played at home, but must guard against complacency
- Ghana will have to dig deep against Algeria away with the scores tied at 1-1, more so because they conceded at home
- Tunisia is trailing Cameroon 1-0 but they could put home advantage to good use in Tunis
- Cote d’Ivoire conceded at home against Guinea and could find the going tough away in Conakry as they are 1-0 down
- Nigeria is also 1-0 down to Sudan, can they turn things around at home in Asaba?
- It’s all level between Mali and Morocco, but it’s advantage hosts Mali as they scored the crucial away goal – the two meet in Bamako
REMAINING TOTAL U-23 Fixtures:
Sunday, 8 September 2019 Brazzaville, Congo 3-3 Zambia(1-2)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Bulawayo, Zimbabwe vs South Africa (0-5)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Setif, Algeria vs Ghana (1-1)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Tunis, Tunisia vs Cameroon (0-1)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Conakry, Guinea vs Cote d’Ivoire (1-0)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Asaba, Nigeria vs Sudan (0-1)
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 Bamako Mali vs Morocco (1-1)
*Team in bold through to the final tournament