By Sports Reporter
VETERAN striker Collins Mbesuma says Zambia will redeem herself in Brazzaville on Sunday when they clash with Congo in the return leg of the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) Group E qualifier.
Speaking after the Chipolopolo let off the Red Devils by squandering many chances at goal in the first leg match at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Mbesuma said the 1-1 draw at home will not determine Zambia’s fate in Sunday’s do-or-die encounter.
“I know we relaxed after taking the lead in the 60th minute through Winston Kalengo, hence Congo equalised. I think it was a difficult game and Congo was defending very well. It is unfortunate we could not convert the few chances we had,” he said.
He said the team has to work hard to collect three points in Brazzaville and top the table.
“I think it will be an open game in Brazzaville and we have to work extra hard and get the maximum points. I believe we can redeem ourselves in Congo; with hard work everything is possible,” the prolific striker said.
Skipper Rainford Kalaba said the players will use the three days before Sunday to blend as they target victory in Brazzaville.
Kalaba lamented that the players had less than 48 hours to build up to the first leg game in Ndola on Wednesday due to circumstances beyond their control.
“Most of the guys in this team have been together for a long time. It is only that the planning and the timings from the clubs to release players for the game have been too tight. If we had time together for a week, I am sure it would have been different,” he said. He however said the result was not bad and the team now has to focus on a win on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo coach George Lwandamina said it was unfortunate that the boys dropped points despite playing at home.
He said the boys did their level best even when they had only one training session as a full squad.
“We are not happy with the draw, but the build-up to this match was difficult because some players arrived today (Wednesday),” he said.
He said the players will not be under pressure in Brazzaville and they will fight for a win.
“Sometimes playing at home, players feel the pressure. I am sure they will make sure they convert the chances. I still have three days to correct the mistakes spotted during this match. And the team will have ample time to blend,’’ he said.
Congo coach Pierre Lechantre described the game as tough but indicated that he was comfortable with the result.
“When we conceded the goal, we were obliged to be more offensive and I think the result was fair. But this is just the first leg, and this Zambian team is able to win so we have to be cautious,” he said.
Congo and Zambia are tied on five points although the Chipolopolo are trailing behind on a goal difference.