MILK CUP PREMIER: Brave Zambians lose opener after battling elements and authorities

Co Londonderry's Dylan McCorkell scores against Lusaka
Co Londonderry's Dylan McCorkell scores against Lusaka

Lusaka of Zambia had an eventful start to their Dale Farm Cup campaign.

A visa mix-up meant the African team spent Sunday night in sleeping in Copenhagen airport before arriving Belfast, via Gatwick, at 3pm on Monday afternoon, just four hours before they played County Londonderry at Rugby Avenue in Coleraine, and a full 24 hours late.

Milk Cup Spokesperson Jim Sandford explained; “We were made aware of the problem at 9pm on Sunday night. Lusaka had arrived in Copenhagen and had planned to fly to Dublin.

“But in Copenhagen, the authorities didn’t allow them to fly on to Dublin with their UK visa.

“I wrote a letter several months ago for teams to give to the British High Commission for them to issue visas.

“Lusaka flew into Belfast last year so they weren’t aware the change of plans this year would be a problem.

“I spoke to someone in Copenhagen on Sunday night and asked about the Schengen Agreement but that only applies to the EU and Denmark aren’t in it.

“Lusaka should have had a stamp on their visa to show permission to come through the Republic of Ireland.”

Unfortunately a night sleeping on the floor of Copenhagen airport seemed to take its toll of the African outfit, who lost 3-1 to the boys from Derry.

With only 11 players in the country the brave Zambians battled the torrential Coleraine rain, but succumbed to an impressive performance from Damien McNamee’s boys.

Dylan McCorkell gave Derry the lead mid-way through the first half only for Lusaka to equalise before half-time. Derry took the lead mid-way through the second half when Sheldon Woods took advantage of some poor goalkeeping by the Zambian shot stopper.

McCorkell grabbed his second of the match five minutes before the end of the game with a fine half-volley, 15 yards from goal.

Elsewhere, Russian Giants CSKA Moscow confirmed their status as one of the tournament’s favourites with a hugely impressive 3-1 win of La Liga outfit Malaga at Scroggy Road in Limavady.

Premier League outfit Newcastle United also got off to a winning start with an impressive performance in front of a good crowd at Ballymoney’s Riada Stadium.

The Magpies beat Japanese outfit Higashi Fukuoka 2-0.

Andy Hunter’s County Antrim impressed the crowds at the Ballymena Showgrounds with a fine 3-0 win over American side Strikers.

Star of last year’s Junior Antrim side Jack McCourt opened the scoring with a low shot from an acute angle.

Thomas Roscoe added a second with an outrageous bit of individual skill.

He skipped past the goalkeeper before rounding a defender and flicking the ball into the net.

Roscoe complete the goalscoring by slotting home a team move from 10 yards.