ZAMBIA Under-17 national soccer team coach Chris Kaunda has declared that his boys are ready for the country’s maiden participation in the youth Africa Cup of Nations finals in Niger.
Kaunda says the team has responded positively to the training they have been receiving for almost two months now.
“If the finals were to start today or tomorrow, I can assure you we have a team that can do the country honours; we are ready,” he said.
And former Chipolopolo national team coach Patrick Phiri says Kaunda and the Under-17 national team should not forget that public expectations were very high because youth football in Zambia had been doing much better than at senior level.
“It is a long process because they are a developmental team which we expect to form the senior national team in a few years to come,” he said.
Phiri said the team should also understand that it was the same team which will form the Under-20 and Under-23 national squads, hence the need for them to work hard.
Phiri told Kaunda to always support the boys, adding that everyone in Zambia will be behind him and the team.
“He needs to inspire the boys by being behind them. It is a very competitive tournament which requires the coach to be supported at all times,” he said.
Phiri urged soccer fans to rally behind the young Chipolopolo, adding that the team needed such support from back home while in Niger. “It is not easy to qualify a team to such a tournament especially that the Under- 17 are a developmental team,” he said.
Phiri said the team should always know that Zambians trusted them and will always be with them regardless of the results.
The finals will be held in Niger later this month. Zambia is in Group A with hosts Niger, Nigeria and Guinea.
Group B has South Africa, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Mali.
Zambia’s first game is with Guinea on Sunday, February 15, 2015. On February 18, the junior Chipolopolo will engage the hosts, Niger and conclude their assignment with Nigeria on February 21.