Coach George Lwandamina is optimistic that his home-based players who featured at the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Rwanda have what it takes to give the foreign-based players tough competition for places in the national team.
The Chipolopolo kicked off the 2016 on a positive note when they reached the quarterfinals of the CHAN tournament that is exclusively for home-based players.
It is the second time Zambia team has reached the knockout phase of CHAN.
Lwandamina says he has a solid base of domestic players to work with for next month’s top-notch clash against Congo-Brazzaville in the 2018 World Cup Group E qualifier double header at home on March 23 and away on March 27.
“What is good after the CHAN outing is that competition for places in the main national team will be very stiff. The home-based players have really accounted well for themselves,” he said.
He however could not indicate whether veterans Christopher Katongo and Isaac Chansa, who both shined at CHAN where they scored a goal each, are among the possible call-ups.
“I can see that players that were at CHAN will give stiff competition to the professionals. The fight for places will be exciting,” he said.
Three players are certainly guaranteed of their places in the clash against Congo and they include goalkeeper Jacob Banda.
The Zesco United goalkeeper was unbeaten in open play for four straight matches before Zambia succumbed 5-4 in post-match penalties in the quarterfinals that finished scoreless in extra-time against Guinea.
Banda’s teammate and playmaker Cletus Chama who created both of Zambia’s goals at the tournament and Power Dynamos defender Christopher Munthali are the others who produced notable performances in Rwanda.