Daka double takes Zambia close to Cup of Nations return

Leicester City forward Patson Daka scored twice to give Zambia a 2-0 win over Lesotho on Sunday, and boost hopes of ending eight years in the Africa Cup of Nations wilderness. 

The 24-year-old silenced critics of his performance in a 3-1 win over the same opponents last Thursday by netting in each half of a qualifier in Soweto near Johannesburg. 

A headed pass from Rangers' Fashion Sakala set up Daka to net on 14 minutes, and the duo combined again on 69 minutes for a close-range goal. 

Zambia stunned Côte d’Ivoire by winning the 2012 Cup of Nations final after a penalty shootout. 

But the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) failed to build on that triumph, making group exits from the following two tournaments, then failing to even qualify for the last three. 

The victories over Lesotho — 59 places lower in the FIFA world rankings — leave Zambia well placed to accompany Côte d’Ivoire to the finals from Group H. 

Côte d’Ivoire automatically secure a place at the 2023 finals as hosts and are involved in qualifying to gain competitive match practice. 

That leaves Zambia and the Comoros fighting for one place from the six-round mini-league as Lesotho have been eliminated following three losses. 

It did not help minnows Lesotho that they were forced to move home fixtures to neighbouring South Africa because the small country lacks an international-standard stadium. 

Zambia have nine points from four matches, and the Comoros three from three ahead of a home fixture against Côte d’Ivoire on Tuesday. 

Elsewhere, former Tottenham Hotspur defender Steven Caulker captained Sierra Leone to a 2-0 victory over Sao Tome e Principe in Group A in the Moroccan coastal city of Agadir. 

Abu Bakarr Samura and Alhassan Koroma scored in the first half of a match Sao Tome hosted 3,770 kilometres (2,350 miles) from home because no stadium there meets international standards. 

Sierra Leone lie third with five points, behind leaders Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria, who meet on Monday with the Super Eagles seeking revenge for a shock loss in Abuja two days ago. 

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