The Africa Cup of Nations began this weekend and in Group A, hosts South Africa began with a goalless draw against Cape Verde with Angola and Morocco following suit without any score. In Group B, Ghana and DR Congo fought to a 2-2 standstill while Mali put one past Niger, 1-0.
Defending champs, the Chipolopolos got their campaign going against Group C minnows Ethiopia returning to the tournament after 31 years. And it was an eventful match as Saladin Seid was brought down by Chisamba Lungu in the D. With a golden chance to take the lead, Seid's weak PK effort was saved by Kennedy Mweene. Earlier, Zambia escaped going behind when Seid's clever lob beat the onrushing Mweene but the ball bouncing in front of goal cleared the crossbar and out of danger.
Ethiopia then showing some big match nerves saw goalkeeper Jemal Tassew clobber Lungu on a counterattack with a studs high challenge to the chest. Tassew was shown the red card and was stretchered off as he lay immobile on the pitch. How many times does that happen?
Reserve goalie Zerihun Tadelle came on as Shimelis Bekele was withdrawn and just at the stroke of half time Zambia took the lead through Collins Mbesuma as a stretched Ethiopian defense was unable to prevent Isaac Chansa from directing his header into the path of the incoming Mbesuma who was able to control the ball with his chest and then strike on the up.
In the 66th minute out of the blue, Addis Hintsa, played a ball through picked up Seid at the top of the box and squared to Adane Girma churning down on his right and the forward let the ball run past and then smashed it onto the upright and into goal. Till then Ethiopia were in damage control mode. They had to withstand a flurry of chances as the Chipolopolos came back strongly. But this turned out to be a fantastic return to African's top competition for the Wayla Antelopes (the African teams have the best names).