THE Zambia Under-20 soccer team today faces Ghana in a must-win encounter in their second Group B match at the ongoing Africa Youth Championship in Senegal.
The Junior Chipolopolo, who lost their first game 1-0 against Mali, will have to beat Ghana to keep their dream alive of qualifying to the 2015 Chile World Cup.
Captain Lubambo Musonda is a doubt for the Ghana clash as he is still being observed by the team doctor after sustaining a knee injury during the first game against Mali.
And Minister of Sport Vincent Mwale told journalists yesterday that the Under -20 have no excuse for missing a slot at the World Cup.
Mwale said the team has experienced players that feature for the senior national team and have been exposed to international tournaments.
“Not all is lost for the Under 20, we might have lost the first game but we can still go past the group stage,” he said.
Mwale said he was optimistic that the junior Chipolopolo will storm the finals of the AYC as they were capable of beating Ghana and South Africa.
“The boys played good football. It is unfortunate we lost but I am optimistic that we can go far in the competition and qualify to the World Cup,” he said.
The minister urged the boys to put aside logistical problems and die a little for the nation that is rallying behind them. Meanwhile, coach Hector Chilombo says the team has put the Mali defeat behind them and will redeem themselves when they face Ghana.
“We have recovered from the loss against Mali. We are not out. This is a tournament where we play three games and we have two more to redeem ourselves,” he said.
He said he was also waiting for a prognosis from the medical team led by Dr Mwila Lupasha on availability of Musonda for the Ghana clash. “He (Lubambo) is a key player for our team and we hope he is going to recover for the game against Ghana,” Chilombo said.
“We need Lubambo and everybody else on board so that we have a strong team when we play against Ghana.”
Chilombo said their main objective was to qualify to the FIFA World Cup by reaching the semi-finals of the competition.