Zambia failed to progress to the quarter-final stage of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after recording a 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso in a tense affair on Tuesday night.
Nigeria defeated Ethiopia thanks to two penalty kicks from Victor Moses which meant that the Zambians' draw was not enough for them to progress into the next round of the tournament, the first time since 1992 that a defending champion has failed to make it through to the quarter-finals.
Playing in front of a sparse crowd, the match began with two injuries that forced substitutions, which meant the opening period was poor as both sides struggled to gain impetus.
The dry, bumpy and dusty pitch made passing a difficult task and seemed to result in the surprise injury of the 2013 Afcon top-scorer Traore, who crumpled onto the floor with a knee problem and no players around him in the 8th minute.
David Nkausu was another casualty in the first half, following a strong tackle which resulted in an ankle injury for the player, who left the pitch in tears as he was replaced by Joseph Musonda in the 16th minute.
A game which lacked rhythm or momentum was brought back to life immediately after the substitution as Collins Mbesuma seemed destined to score in front of goal after a slick Zambian move down the right flank which left the striker with the goal at his mercy. But his left-footed drive went straight into Diakite's hands and Herve Renard screamed with frustration on the sidelines.
Zambia continued to knock on the door, but Burkina Faso did not budge until they fashioned a chance of their own which Charles Kabore skied into the stands after a rare push forward.
The remaining twenty minutes of the first half was a physical affair which was dominated by the difficulties of the pitch, as players struggled to control passes or string together fluid passages of play.
But in the dying minutes of the half Mbola swung in a ball from the left flank and Rainford Kalaba burst into the box at the back post and almost changed the entire perspective of the match, but his header was weak and went straight into Diakite’s path, meaning the opening period ended 0-0.
The second half followed the pattern of the first, with Zambia chasing the game and Burkina Faso looking content to defend their way into the quarter-finals. The Stallions even began to resort to time wasting tactics as early as the 55th minute, displaying their desire for the stalemate.
The Chipolopolo were not giving up on a win and Mbesuma came close once more with thirty minutes to go, as he tried to power in a header off a Kalaba corner kick, but his effort went over the crossbar and the striker fell to the ground after being struck in the face by a raised boot.
The defending champions continued to push forward, but were constrained by a disciplined defensive performance from the Stallions, which helped hinder their opponent's search for a winner.
The final twenty minutes were make or break for the Zambians as they would have kept one eye on proceedings in Nigeria’s clash against Ethiopia, which was also resting on 0-0. But Victor Moses was able to find Nigeria’s elusive goal in the 80th minute and a second in the 90th minute which meant Zambia was facing elimination with little time to go.
The Chipolopolo searched for the winner in desperation as the match entered its dying embers, but were unable to break Burkina Faso's strong spine in defence and the clash ended in a rather dire 0-0 draw, meaning that Burkina Faso and Nigeria enter into the next round of the tournament.