ZAMBIA's representatives at the ongoing Pan-African Airtel Under-17 Rising Stars tournament in Nigeria stuttered after a bright start with the girls' team losing 4-1 against Ghana, while the boys drew 1-1, but both still remain in good frame to make the quarter-finals.
The boys, losing finalists from last year's event and started the 2013 edition on a high with a 2-1 over Sierra Leon, drew their second game against north-eastern neighbours Tanzania via a 1-1 score.
Patson Daka, who was top scorer for the national tournament held in Lusaka scored for the junior Chipolopolo; with the draw putting Zambia into joint leadership on four points.
Sharing top slot with Zambia in Group D is now bitter rivals Ghana on four points after the West Africans drew 2-2 with Sierra Leon who together with Tanzania, are on a point each.
Zambia was by pressing time scheduled to play Ghana in the top of the bill match with the winner expected to get an automatic qualification to the last eight and the loser having to wait for result from other venues.
A draw would however see both sides through but FAZ committee member Lee Kawanu, who is delegation leader, insisted "Our aim is to beat Ghana and win the group".
For the girls, it was a sad day as after a 4-0 bashing of Burkina Faso, they fell 4-1 to Ghana and got into joint second with Ghana as Chad surged ahead on six points after the beat beating Burkina Faso 1-0 yesterday.
Zambia got the consolation goal in the game against Ghana through Barbara Banda, who scored twice in the beating Burkina Faso.
"The girls still have a good chance of making it to the quarter finals; if we beat Chad or as best third-placed team if they avoid losing by a big margin, but our aim of course is to beat Chad," Kawanu said.