THE spotlight will today fall on coach Fighton Simukonda who will either redeem or confine himself to failure when his Under-23 boys clash with Botswana in the 2015 Senegal CAF Championship first round first leg qualifier.
The last time Simukonda took the Under- 23 national soccer team for a competition was in the All Africa Games and the mission ended in failure.
The Zambia-Botswana match will be played at Lobatse Sports Complex 70km south of Gaborone with kick- off local time set for 19:30 hours.
The Senegal qualifiers are also competition for the 2016 Rio Olympics Games.
Simukonda’s charges meet the Tswana Under-23 without their coach Keitumetse Paul who was on Wednesday fired for alleged unethical conduct.
The Tswana Under-23 will also be without five key players who are with the senior team in South Africa for the Council of Southern Africa Associations (COSAFA) Castle Senior Challenge tournament.
Simukonda has declared his charges ready for the challenge and that they will emerge victorious.
He said the team was not scared of the fact that it was an away game and will not be intimidated in any way.
The Zambian coach is aware of the Tswana’s ability of causing an upset but has warned his players to remain alert till the last whistle.
“I have told the players to remain vigilant until the last whistle; that they shouldn’t relax after scoring. We have to fight to the end. But all in all, my boys are mentally and physically ready for the game and will only settle for a win,” he said.
Simukonda said the absence of Israeli-based Evans Kangwa and Nchanga Rangers striker Patson Daka will not hinder the team from progressing to the next round.
“I have enough human resource on the frontline. Yes, we will miss them but that is not a reason for us to lose.
I am optimistic that the boys will deliver. We want to win here for us to stand a better chance at home,” he said.
The Zambian frontline is dependent on Zanaco’s Moses Phiri, Patrick Ngoma of Red Arrows, Green Buffaloes’ Friday Samu and Solomon Sakala from Kabwe Warriors.
Goalkeepers: Toaster Nsabata (Zanaco), Kenny Mumba (Red Arrows);
Defenders: Benedict Chepeshi (Red Arrows), Boyd Mkandawire (Napsa Stars), Kayawe Kapota (Nkana), Alex Mwamba (Power Dynamos) and Jack Chirwa (Green Buffaloes);
Midfielders: Benson Sakala (Chicago Magic/USA), Shadreck Malambo (Red Arrows), Lubambo Musonda (Power Dynamos), Lameck Silwaba (Mufulira Wanderers), Kelvin Mubanga (Power Dynamos), Aubrey Chamulwanda (Nchanga Rangers) and John Ching’andu (Zesco United);