By Ebenezer Bajela.
Despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria in their opening match at the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria on Sunday, Zambia’s head coach Ian Bakala remains optimistic about his side’s chances of qualifying from the group stage.
A Favour Daniel’s 76th-minute strike condemned Bakala’s side to a defeat against the two-time African champions.
Bakala says he saw a lot of positives from the match despite the defeat and praised his players for putting up a good fight.
“It is painful to lose a game like this, but it was a tough game. Credit to Nigeria for the win because they used their chance. When you are coming to the first game of the tournament, anything is possible,” he told CAFOnline.
The coach admitted that his young lads were made to pay for their mistakes, something he believed was meant to happen at this stage of their football career.
“There is a lot to do and we will work on the mistakes in training. We will definitely change our story moving forward,” said the coach.
He added; “I am happy with how we have played because physically and tactically, we are in a good place. We looked much better in the second half and hopefully, we can carry on that form to our next match.”
Zambia will take on South Africa in their next match, a tie that they need to win to keep their hopes of progressing to the last eight alive, while Nigeria face Morocco who won their first game.
A win for Nigeria would be enough to secure their spot in the next round.