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Uganda goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan endured an evening to forget as the Cranes were defeated 3-1 by Zambia in their African Nations Championship opener.

The East Africans were already trailing 2-1 when, in the 72nd minute, Ochan mishandled Fackson Kapumbu's ambitious free kick from range and, stepping back, allowed the ball to bounce over the line.

It was the standout moment in a miserable evening for Uganda, who largely enjoyed the better of the first half, and were twice unfortunate to concede.

Lazarus Kambole, making his international debut, struck a superb opener in the 38th minute after finishing Ernest Mbewe's cross, despite Zambia being on the back foot for much of the first period.

Taddeo Lwanga and Milton Karisa had previously threatened to break the deadlock, but soon after falling behind, Uganda equalised through Derrick Nsibambi, whose delightful scissors kick left Toaster Nsabata with little chance.

After the break, Uganda again threatened, with Karisa a particularly lively presence. However, it was Zambia who struck next when Augustine Kabaso Mulenga tapped home - past the despairing lunge of Bernard Mwanga - after a cross from the right had beaten Ochan.

Uganda had just introduced wonderkid Muhammad Shaban from the bench in search of an equaliser when Ochan's momentary lapse took the tie beyond them.

Kapumbu's long-range effort was speculative, and while a deflection off the Ugandan wall changed its trajectory, Ochan still had ample time to clear his lines only to fumble the ball over the line.

The win takes Zambia up to top spot in Group B, level on points with Namibia following their earlier surprise victory over the Ivory Coast.

Uganda will be desperate to keep their CHAN hopes alive against Namibia in their next fixture, while Zambia could take a major step towards the quarter finals against the Elephants.

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