Patson Daka scored a double on Sunday to guide Zambia to a 2-0 away win over Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualification and strengthen their chances of qualifying for next year’s finals.
The Leicester City attacker played a centre forward role for his country and tucked away opportunities in the 14th and 69th minute, both set up by Scottish-based Fashion Sakala.
It was a second successive win since Avram Grant took over as coach and puts Zambia top of Group H, from which only one team qualifies.
The group also includes the Ivory Coast, who are participating in the qualifiers but already in the 24-team field as hosts of next January’s finals.
The best placed team beside the Ivorians qualifies and 2012 winners Zambia are now close to booking a place in their first finals since 2015 after missing out on the last three editions.
Lesotho, who were forced to host Sunday’s tie in neighbouring South Africa because their own stadium is considered inadequate for international football, have been eliminated.
In Sunday’s only other qualifier, Sierra Leone registered their first win in Group A as they beat Sao Tome e Principe 2-0 in neutral Agadir.
The two sides had drawn 2-2 in the Moroccan city last week but the return match lifted Sierra Leone to within one point of second placed Nigeria in the standings.
Abubakarr Samura and Alhassan Koroma, who plays his club football in the Spanish second division, scored in the first half.
Both Sao Tome and Sierra Leone are banned by the Confederation of African Football from hosting international matches because of poor facilities.
Sunday’s matches marked the start of the fourth round of qualifiers and there will be seven matches on Monday and 12 more on Tuesday as all the fixtures of the past week are reversed.
The top two teams in each of the 12 groups go through to the finals, apart from Group H.