Zambia’s wait for a win on Africa Cup of Nations matchday two will stretch to 21 years after the Copper Bullets were shot down 2-1 by Tunisia.
Honour Janza’s men squandered countless chances and the Eagles of Carthage, who now require just a draw to ensure Group B progression, duly punished their profligacy.
However, the key factor behind Zambia’s demise was not their inability to rustle the onion bag, but the loss of Southampton striker Emmanuel Mayuka.
The sparsely utilised Saint led the Chipolopolo line with aplomb and fired his country into the lead just before the hour mark.
Disaster struck when he succumbed to injury during the act and had to be replaced ten minutes later.
Zambia promptly imploded without a competent spearhead to aid their possession retention plan and finish the opportunities carved out by skipper and chief playmaker, Rainford Kalaba.
Owing to their lack of number ten operatives, Southampton would benefit from uniting the 28-year-old with Mayuka at club level, with the former exemplifying his conjuring prowess in carving the Tunisian defence at will last time out.
Kalaba made a laudable five key passes in the match, one of which enabled Zambia to score their only goal of the game.
This tally was two greater than the next best any of his compatriots could muster, while it was more than double managed by the most creative Tunisia representative.
His 61 touches of the ball was 18 more than any of his colleagues; only opposition skipper and match-winner Yassine Chikhaoui’s 62 bests it.
As if topping every metric WhoScored.com keep track of was his personal mission, Kalaba was also the game’s top dribbler too.
Southampton’s attacking-midfield stocks could certainly use populating, with their most frequently used off-the-frontman threesome Dusan Tadic, Sadio Mane and James Ward-Prowse all arguably better off either out wide or deeper.
Kalaba would represent a cost-effective solution to this shortage as the Saints look to book a maiden top-four Premier League finish, a feat they’re rated at 7/5 to achieve.