THE arrival of 400 meters African gold medallist and footballer Kabange Mupopo at the Shepolopolo national football camp has cheered coach Albert Kachinga.
Kachinga believes her inclusion in the team will give Zambia an extra edge ahead of the African Women Championship (AWC) qualifier against Namibia next month.
Multiple-talented Mupopo, who is in camp with the Shepolopolo, is also preparing for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 400 meters athletics where she has already qualified. Speaking in an interview yesterday after the Shepolopolo morning training session at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka, Kachinga said Mupopo was adapting well to the soccer training session and focusing on 2016 Rio.
“The arrival of Mupopo is a morale booster to the team. It has given us an extra edge ahead of the match. In as much as she is also attached to athletics, she is doing her balancing very well.
‘‘She has an international athletics meet in United State next month, and she definitely has to train for it. But she will immediately re-join the team after the US engagement,” Kachinga said.
He however said Mupopo needed proper management from the administrators in the two fields to ensure she continues to balance athletics and football and delivering positive results in both.
“I think we need to balance the training very well and not strain the athlete. The player and the loads she is focusing on must be managed properly. She doesn’t have to be overloaded as that would work to her disadvantage for both discplines.. But so far she is on the right track,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mupopo has maintained that she was preparing well for both football and athletics tournaments with a set mind and was not in any way strained.
“I know what I am doing. So far I am on the right track and preparing for both fields. I will deliver in both athletics and football,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kachinga said the target for the team and his technical bench was to record victory in both legs and will not be intimidated by Namibia’s past dominance. He described the girls’ levels of fitness and commitment as impressive.
“I believe no coach wants to lose, so the target is to win both legs. Zambia’s loss for the Shepolopolo at the 2014 AWC will not determine the result next month. It is a different ball game and Namibia should expect tough competition. The girls are doing well in training and I believe we are heading in the right direction,” he said. Zambia was defeated 2-0 by Namibia at the 2014 AWC tournament. The two teams face each other in a qualifier set for March 6 at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium.
Kachinga has called experienced defender Emeldah Musonda, strikers Hellen Mubanga, Grace Zulu and Mupopo to the team.