FORMER national soccer team coach Patrick Phiri has hailed under-23 team captain and goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata for his brilliant performance which helped Zambia book a place at the 2015 Senegal U-23 African Championship.
Nsabata saved two spot- kicks during the dramatic penalty shoot-out against Ivory Coast in the final round, return leg Senegal qualifier played at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium on Saturday.
Phiri said Nsabata exhibited true leadership and determination to assist the team qualify to the tournament.
“He put up a fantastic performance during that game. Nsabata showed good concentration and bravery. It is not easy to have the entire stadium looking forward to your good save,” he said.
He advised Nsabata to remain disciplined and work harder as the team sets eyes on Senegal which is a qualifier to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Meanwhile, Phiri is confident that Zambia will overcome the West African and Arab teams at the tournament.
He said the team has quality players and a good technical bench led by coach Fighton Simukonda that can break the 27 years dry spell of failing to qualify to the Olympics.
“The team fought hard to beat a tough Ivory Coast. I know West Africa gives Zambian teams a difficult game, but we managed to triumph over the Ivorians, hence the team can do it even in Senegal.
“ The team has enough time to prepare physically and mentally. I have no doubt that the coach will work on the spotted weaknesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo Soccer Fans Association president Yotham Mwanza has appealed to FAZ to organise more friendly games to prepare the team adequately.
Mwanza said the team will face tough competition therefore it needed to get enough mental and physical preparation.
“We had difficulties in penetrating the Ivorian defence because of their physical aspect which outplayed our boys.
“I am sure the technical bench will physique the boys on how to handle such teams. The friendly games will help relieve nervousness in the boys,” he said.
The Junior Chipolopolo beat Young Elephants 4-3 on post-match penalties to join hosts Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Mali and Tunisia.
The African Championship will run from November 28 to December 12, with top three teams qualifying for the Olympics.