BEIJING: World Cup hosts Brazil were made to work hard for a 2-0 win yesterday over a Zambia side whose coach quit last week and who were missing three players reportedly facing arrest in a bizarre club-versus-country row.
The South Americans had to wait nearly an hour before Oscar and Dede scored in a seven-minute spell at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium, the unlikely venue for the first meeting between the five-times world champions and the 2012 African champions.
Brazil, who made six changes from the team who beat South Korea 2-0 on Saturday, battled to their 10th win in 11 games, a run interrupted by August’s 1-0 defeat in Switzerland.
Zambia, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, were playing under 35-year-old interim coach Patrice Beaumelle.
The Chipolopolo were without Nathan Sinkala, Stopilla Sunzu, Rainford Kalaba, who are all based with the Democratic Republic of Congo club TP Mazembe, after the Zambian FA said they “failed to arrive in time”.
Media reports said that Zambian immigration authorities had issued a warrant for the trio’s arrest after they returned to their club without permission.
TP Mazembe initially refused to release the players, saying they had “malaria and digestive problems”, but the Zambian FA demanded they travel to Lusaka in any case for examination.
The website Zambian Football (www.zambianfootball.co.zm) said the trio were then told to travel with the squad to China but instead went back to Mazembe.
The website reproduced a statement from the Zambian immigration service saying the players “crossed into Congo without following the immigration exit procedure”.AFP