Victorious Zambia boost World Cup hopes
Dominant Zambia defeated
troubled Togo 1-0 Wednesday to boost hopes of
a first appearance at the World Cup finals.
France-based Felix Katongo scored on
32 minutes to take the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets)
three points clear of second-placed Swaziland
in Group 11 and leave shock 2006 qualifiers
Togo in danger of elimination.
Minnows Swaziland can regain top spot by winning
the final fixture against Togo next month, but
Zambia would almost certainly progress anyway
as one of the best eight runners-up from the
12 second round mini-leagues.
Togolese hopes of making the 2010 tournament
in South Africa rest on overcoming Swaziland
at a neutral venue to be decided and snatching
one of the runners-up berths.
They are barred from playing at home after post-match
violence during an African Nations Cup qualifier
last year injured Mali star Frederic Kanoute
and a team-mate.
The group winners and best runners-up will be
divided into five groups of four with the winners
joining the South Africa at the first World
Cup to be staged in Africa.
Togo suffered two blows ahead of the match at
Konkola Stadium with the resignation of French
coach Henri Stambouli followed by the refusal
of Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor to leave
Adebayor, whose goals were pivotal to reaching
the 2006 World Cup, reportedly feared the jet
carrying the Togolese would crash and refused
to travel unless accompanied by the national
football federation president.
But Tata Adaglo could not make the trip because
he is organising the burial of his mother and
sent deputy Gabriel Ameyi to the northern Zambia
Adebayor was sorely missed with Togo not having
a single shot on target and their problems worsened
10 minutes into the second half when goalkeeper
Cedric Mensah had to be replaced after a Rainford
Kalaba shot struck him in the face.