In his interview with this site before the tournament started, PUMA star Kader Mangane said that Zambia were a team they feared and had struggled to beat in the past, and after 30 minutes of the game, with his team trailing 2-0, it was easy to see where that fear came from.
Perhaps sensing that Senegal and their star-studded attack are under pressure, Zambia began the game by constantly attacking the Senegal defence with quick interplay and brilliant passes between defenders. Senegal looked nervy, struggled to get their own passing game going and had to resort to long balls to Demba Ba to try and make chances.
Yet despite the negative result, a look at the statistics show that Senegal have plenty to build on going into their next match. They had 15 attempts on goal compared to Zambia’s 13, made 391 successful passes out of 499 and Ba and Moussa Sow were unlucky to be denied by the excellent Mweene in Zambia’s goal.
In the second half, Senegal began to have the better of things, with Mangane using the ball effectively from defence and Demba Ba causing problems up front, yet it was the introduction of his new Newcastle teammate, Papiss Cisse, that really swung the match in their favour.
Ba’s form for Newcastle this season has made him a marked man, yet with the pace of Cisse requiring the attention of the Zambia defenders the former was allowed more space. Cisse’s first touch took him past two Zambia defenders, and his cross found Ba unmarked at the far post, but the prolific striker could only hit the bar with a crashing header.
First-half substitute N’Doye scored on 74 minutes after more fine work from Cisse, and Senegal looked the more dangerous team at the final whistle. Senegal face Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday, and should concentrate in training on shaping the midfield to offer more protection to a defence that were over-exposed in that first quarter.
If they do that, and also adapt the formation to include Demba Ba and Cisse together from kick-off, then they can forget this defeat and concentrate on getting a vital win before the last group game against Libya next Sunday.