Harare – Zambia’s 2-0 win in their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zimbabwe may have been too little too late for them.
But it sure did give the world the chance to get a glimpse of the footballing quality that Chipolopolo possesses despite the fact that the national side has failed to qualify for AFCON for a third time in a row. The more shocking thing about this failure to qualify is that Zambia won AFCON in 2012, qualified for the next tournament – and then fizzled out.
Last week, Zimbabwe – who ironically qualified despite the loss – were outplayed in every aspect of the game, with the in-form Red Bull Salzburg striker Patson Daka grabbing a brace that buried the disjointed hosts in Harare.
That both Daka’s goals were engineered by his RB Salzburg teammate Enock Mwepu perfected the script.
The two players have played together since their youthful days at Kafue Celtic.
Theirs is a rare script of the game’s Siamese twins, who have almost always shared the change-room in their entire career.
They have played together at Kafue Celtic, Rising Stars and Power Dynamos under veteran coach Tenant Chilumba.
Daka then moved to RB Salzburg while Mwepu was signed by Napsa Stars.
It didn’t take long though before the two reunited at RB Salzburg where their chemistry is too evident to ignore.
Even as Daka is being hunted by several top giants of European football, those clubs are also putting on a simultaneous bid for Mwepu.
It is the two who were the most influential figures in Zambia’s 2017 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations triumph and a round markable last eight finish at the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in South Korea the same year.
In fact, the two have represented Zambia from the Under-17 up to the senior level.
Speaking after their Afcon vain victory over Zimbabwe, Mwepu said “We have come a long way with Daka and we will also go a long way barring any sad chapters.
“When he (Daka) is in the team, I know my work at midfield will be easy. I know instinctively where to pass when I have the ball at my feet. I know his runs and to him it’s also instinctive. We are still to achieve more and we know we will.”
After failing to qualify for the AFCON tournament to be held in Cameroon, Mwepu and Daka will for now focus on helping Chipolopolo make it to a maiden FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year.