ZAMBIAN football will be put on litmus paper today at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka when the under-23 team faces Nigeria in the final leg of the 2015 Congo- Brazzaville All Africa Games qualifiers.
With the national women team failing to qualify to the AAG after losing 6-5 on aggregate to Tanzania’s Twiga Stars 48hours ago, the Zambian fans are looking to the young Chipolopolo for redemption.
Under-23 national team coach Fighton Simukonda is however confident that his lads will carry the day and qualify to the AAG.
Simukonda said the boys were mentally and physically ready today’s match and will not be deterred by anything.
“The team is ready and we will beat Nigeria come what may. I am not underrating Nigeria, but I have confidence in my boys to deliver a good result. It will be a tough game because both teams need a win to qualify, “he said.
He said his told the boys will not to allow Nigeria to camp in their territory as that might lead to costly minor mistakes.
He also said that Super Eagles striker Taiwo Awoniyi is not a big threat and will be tamed well by the defence.
“Awoniyi is a good player but won’t be playing alone. My boys will pin him down and we not to allow him to get scoring chances, “he said.
He has advised the players to play as a unit and not individually to achieve the intended target of qualifying to the AAG.
He has also advised Nigerian coach Samson Siasia not to begin looking for excuses before the match is played because Zambians are not hostile.
“I don’t understand why his saying Chipolopolo fans are hostile before playing the game. The focus should be on the game and I am confident that the fans will behave well, “he said.
Siasia on arrival in Lusaka on Friday said he was aware of how hostile Chipolopolo fans can be and has so many times warned his players about it.
The young Chipolopolo will go in the game without Israeli based midfielder Emmanuel Mbola and striker Evans Kangwa but Simukonda said he has enough resource to emerge victors.
Zambia has two professional players in the names of Egyptian based Ronald ‘Sate Sate’Kampamba and South-African based midfielder Mukuka Mulenga.
Meanwhile, Siasia said Zambia should brace themselves for a tough match and must not be cheated by the home advantage philosophy.
“We are here to get the needed result which is a win. I know we are playing away, but that will not determine our performance. Our plan is to dismantle the Zambian defence and we get the goals,” he said.
The Zambian squad has: goal keepers Toaster Nsabata and Kenny Mumba
Defenders are Chishimba Changala, Boyd Mkandawire, Billy Mutale, Kayawe Kapota, Benard Mapili and Benedict Chepeshi.
The midfield has Salulani Phiri,Shadreck Malambo, John Chingandu, Mukuka Mulenga, Bruce Musakanya, Julius Situmbeko, and Larry Bwalya.
Strikers include Patrick Ngoma, Ronald Kampamba, Friday Samu, Moses Phiri and Aubrey Chamulwanda.