Phiri admits Zambia's chances are slim

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Phiri said his team had little hope of making it to the quarter-finals after being mauled by a ruthless Cameroon side.

He blamed the midfield for failing to take command of the match, despite the inclusion of Isaac Chansa and captain Christopher Katongo who were returning from a one-match suspension.

Phiri said Zambia’s destiny was now in the hands of the match involving Cameroon and Sudan on Wednesday.

“Our chances of making it to the quarterfinals also depend on the outcome of the Cameroon-Sudan game. Our chances are still very slim but if Sudan hold Cameroon, goal difference will be a factor.”

Phiri also defended his decision to drop veteran defender Elijah Tana, despite a shambolic display by the entire defence.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and look at all those elements, defence and midfield, and make a survival plan,” he said.

“I didn’t drop him (Tana) but he failed to show commitment to be part and parcel of the team,” he said.

The wounded Indomitable Lions were gifted all the five goals by the Zambian defence that looked intimidated by the presence of the star-studded Cameroon side.

Cameroon are now second on the table while Egypt took over the top slot with a 3-0 bashing of Sudan.

Former Jomo Cosmos’ midfielder Felix Katongo has blamed the defence for the loss.

Katongo said the defence comprising of Billy Mwanza, Clive Hachilensa, Kennedy Nketani (replaced by Hichani Himoonde) and Joseph Musonda performed poorly and cost Zambia victory.

He said the Africa Cup was a high-level tournament where teams could not afford to make basic errors.

“This is a serious tournament where we can’t afford to make such mistakes. The defence made a lot of mistakes which cost us the match,” Katongo, who was voted man-of-the-match, said.

The nimble-footed player, who is the younger brother of Chipolopolo Boys captain Christopher, said he hoped the team had learnt from the mistakes and would improve against Egypt in their final Group C match.