Uganda falls to Zambia as Namibia defeat Ivorians

By Agencies

Rusty debutants Namibia scored in stoppage time Sunday to shock the Ivory Coast 1-0 in Group B during the opening round of matches at the African Nations Championship in Morocco.

A lacklustre match in central city Marrakech seemed destined to end goalless until Vetunuavi Hambira got the slightest of touches with his head to a free-kick for the match-winner.

Because of a dispute between national association and league officials in Namibia, there has been no top-flight championship football in the southern Africa country for more than a year.

The only competitive match practice the Namibians got ahead of the 23-day tournament in Morocco was defeating Zimbabwe and the Comoros last year in two-leg qualifiers.

Ivory Coast finished third in the last Nations Championship, staged by Rwanda two years ago, after failing to get past the first round in two earlier appearances.

Namibia were joined at the top of the group by Zambia, who benefited from a careless own-goal by Uganda goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan en route to a 3-1 victory.

Ochan caught the ball behind the goalline with 18 minutes remaining after a free-kick was deflected toward him.

Lazarous Kambole put Zambia ahead on 38 minutes and Derrick Nsibambi equalised almost immediately before a 63rd-minute Augustine Mulenga goal left Uganda trailing again.

Sudan upset 2016 semi-finalists Guinea 2-1 in Group A with Saifeldin Bakhit atoning for blazing a penalty wide by scoring a scrambled winner on 75 minutes in Casablanca.

Omer Koko nodded the Sudanese into a first-half lead after a corner and Sekou Amadou Camara equalised on 55 minutes with a flying header off a cross.

Guinea were the leading scorers in qualifying with 16 goals from four matches and half of them came from Camara, including four in one match.

On Monday, Group C kicks off in northern city Tangier with 2014 champions Libya facing newcomers Equatorial Guinea before Nigeria meet Rwanda.

The Nations Championship is restricted to home-based footballers, giving international exposure to many stars kept out of senior national teams by Europe-based compatriots.

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