ZAMBIA'S preparations for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals got a reality check yesterday when the Chipolopolo tumbled to Angola in an international friendly soccer match at Sagrada Esperansa Stadium in Dundo.
This was Zambia's second loss since the squad started preparing for next month's AFCON finals to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, having earlier lost by the same margin to Nigeria in Kaduna.
The Chipolopolo, who had a fair chance of scoring opportunities in this match played before a packed stadium, got punished for some defensive frailties when Angola poked home on 59 minutes from a corner kick.
Veteran Palancas Negras striker, SebastiÃ£o 'Love' Cabungula headed in a delicious left wing cross, beating goalkeeper Kalililo Kakonje into the far post after the Chipolopolo rearguard failed to defend a corner.
Coach Herve Renard gave Nkana teenage striker, Evans Kangwa a place in the starting 11, partnering him with James Chamanga upfront as Zambia searched for an early goal.
Renard also made a surprise inclusion of midfielder, Chisamba Lungu in the starting team, surprisingly employing him as a left back and the Russia-based player did not disappoint in that position.
However, Kangwa and Chamanga could not find the back of the net despite Zambia finishing the strongest in the first half.
Kangwa and Chamanga later paved way for the experienced Felix Katongo and Given Singuluma in a desperate search for goals.
Angola were re-energised after the break and their efforts paid off with a goal.
Love could have grabbed a brace but his well-struck free-kick was kept out by Kakonje before Singuluma fluffed his chance on the opposite goal, shooting wide inside the box.
Midfielder Rainford Kalaba saw his shot saved by the Angolan goalkeeper after Singuluma was fouled.
With time slowly ticking away, Francis Kasonde was rested for Hichani Himoonde as Renard tried to seal the backline.
The Chipolopolo were unlucky not to equalise when Kalaba saw his well-executed free-kick saved by the Angola goalminder. Zambia later survived as scare when Kakonje managed to tip over a dangerous thunderbolt.
Another Under-20 sensation, Bruce Musakanya was introduced for playmaker Joseph Sitali while defender Nyambe Mulenga replaced Jimmy Chisenga in an effort to try-out most players on the Angolan trip.
The Chipolopolo tried but in vain to restore parity as Angola, who last Wednesday drew 1-1 with Cameroun, held on for a popular win against their former coach, Renard, who had a brief stint after quitting the Zambia.
And FAZ expressed happiness with the competitive nature of the game, saying it provided both teams with good preparations.
FAZ spokesperson, Erick Mwanza said it was a good training match and that the association was looking forward to the bext phase of preparations and some friendlies lined-up before the kick-off of AFCON on January 21.
Renard's men, who return to Lusaka today, will continue with local preparations before heading to South Africa on December 27 for the final AFCON preparations.
While Zambia will contest Group A at next month's AFCON finals against, Libya, Senegal and co-hosts, Equatorial Guinea, Angola are in Group B alongside, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Sudan.
Line-up: Kalililo Kakonje, Jimmy Chisenga (Nyambe Mulenga), Francis Kasonde (Hichani Himoonde), Stopilla Sunzu, Chisamba Lungu, Christopher Katongo, Nathan Sinkala, Joseph Sitali (Bruce Musakanya), Rainford Kalaba, James Chamanga (Felix Katongo), Evans Kangwa (Given Singuluma).