Zambian striker Patson Daka assisted Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall in scoring a goal during the match between Leicester and Swansea City in King Power Stadium, on Tuesday, January 30. Daka manoeuvred the ball through Nathan Wood’s legs before passing it to Dewsbury-Hall.
While in the box, Wood fouled him, earning Leicester a penalty in the 69th minute. Three minutes later, Yunus Akgün scored another goal for Leicester. The match concluded with Leicester winning 3-1 against Swansea City.
Despite his performance, Daka rarely got to play for Leicester last year. Even so, he stayed focused when representing the Zambian Men’s football team in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The way he conducted himself off the pitch even earned him praise from Avram Grant, the current manager for the Chipolopolo.
Football remains a popular sport for many Zambian fans, boosting other segments such as merchandise sales and SportsBet online. A Statista survey in 2017 showed that almost half of the respondents participate in sports betting because it makes sports more interesting.
The Zambian Men’s Football team recently participated in the AFCON, held in Ivory Coast, starting from January 13. They came with a hope to repeat the success of the women’s team. Last year, the Zambian Women’s Football team finally qualified to go to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Copper Queens also managed to finish in third place in the Women’s AFCON 2022.
Unfortunately, the Chipolopolo men had an early exit after two draws against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania and a loss against Morocco. However, Daka still managed to catch the attention of many people. Daka first came to the attention of the public in June 2015, because he was picked to join Zambia’s senior team to face Guinea-Bissau in the 2017 AFCON.
At the time, the decision of the then-coach of the Chipolopolo, George Lwandamina caused polarising opinions among the fans and the analysts. Some believed that Daka was promoted to the senior team too quickly.
Lwandamina stuck to his decision even though Daka had only managed to score two goals when he competed with the under-17 team in the 2015 AFCON, and he hadn’t even scored a goal for Nchanga Rangers, his club.
To get Daka on the field, Lwandamina even placed Emmanuel Mayuka, a player for Southampton in the Premier League, on the bench.
“He is a striker and he has done well at the youth level, and all we need to do is encourage the boy,” Lwandamina said, as cited from The Guardian.
Daka also represented Zambia at the African Nations Championship in January 2016. In 2017, Daka played a role in Zambia winning the Under-20 AFCON and helped the team qualify for the Under-20 World Cup. In the quarterfinals of the World Cup, he managed to score against Italy.
Thanks to his great performance in the under-20 team, Daka, along with Fashion Sakala and Enock Mwepu, joined the senior squad for the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.
Daka on the international stage
Daka finally established his presence on the international stage after scoring the only goal in the World Cup 2017 qualifier against Algeria. Even though he still played with the under-23 team, he was also part of the senior squad.
He even earned a spot on the top-10 all-time Zambia scorers list, where he was ranked 8th with 20 goals in 43 games. For comparison, the number one was Godfrey Chitalu, with a record of 79 goals in 111 games.
With this year’s performance, Daka, who is now 25 years old, is the first player to participate in every age-group version of the AFCON, from under-17, under-20, under-23, and now the seniors.
“Patson showed leadership and a never-say-never attitude in the Tanzania game, which kept the hopes of many of us alive as the tournament progressed,” said Zambian football journalist Calvin Kaumba Chikenge about Daka.