SUN SPORTS writes
THE FIFA window period has given the Zambian national team a loaded football feast despite the prevailing Covid-19 fears and players have stepped up to the challenge, Football Association of Zambia president Andrew Kamanga has said.
“The past week has been a very loaded football feast with the FIFA calendar that closes on Wednesday bringing a lot of action. It has been a window that has seen a lot of football. Our beloved Chipolopolo has been busy during this window playing three international friendly matches,” he said.
“Under the Covid-19conditions, getting to play international games is not easy. Some of our colleagues in other countries have opted not to play any games during this window while others have had to take games to other continents where the Covid-19 trap is less cumbersome.”
He said the FAZ executive executive pledged to give all national teams high level preparations for important assignments and would liaise with the technical benches to provide programmes that ensure quality preparations.
“We are happy that we were able to give the Chipolopolo good preparations for the Botswana matches and also the CHAN. We particularly note the number of local players that were given a run in the games played during the FIFA window. It was encouraging to see them step up to the plate and deliver,” he said.
“We have no doubt that with the trajectory that the team is on, we will be able to rebound as a strong force on the African continent and beyond.
“As we continue building for the November showdown with Botswana and the CHAN in January, we shall continue to support all our teams with as many friendly matches as possible. Our Copper Queens who qualified to the Tokyo 2020 (to be played in 2021) Olympic Games will face Chile in Santiago next month in two high profile international friendly matches.”
The senior men’s team redeemed itself from the 2-1 defeat to Kenya by coming from behind to beat Bafana Bafana of South Africa 2-1 in Sunday’s friendly match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Micho said the result would give his side positive energy ahead of the crunch double header clashes against Botswana in November in the Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group H qualifiers.
“It was like clash of two boxers without guards attacking each other. We have been one nil down in a situation where we controlled the game and we got that goal,” he said.
“I need to give credit to the players that came from the bench and won the game for us. Great team spirit for us after being punching bag in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, missing two Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 and 2019.”
Micho said his task was to make sure that the team is ready in November when they face Botswana and also build a strong squad for the Cameroon 2021 CHAN in January.
“After losing two matches (AFCON qualifiers), we are going back and what better confidence than beating South Africa here with top class individuals, top class team and getting good injection of motivation before the Africa Cup qualifiers against Botswana in November,” he said.
Two second half goals from super sub Mubanga Kampamba and Chaniza Zulu gave the Chipolopolo the much needed victory against their regional rivals.
Kampamba who had assisted in Zambia’s two goals against Malawi and Kenya cancelled Keagan Dolly’s 65th minute goal which had given Bafana Bafana the lead in the second half.
With 10 minutes before the final whistle, Chaniza Zulu taped in Gampani Lungu’s shot from inside the 18-yard to give Zambia the victory in their third friendly fixture played in the last five days.
An excited Chipolopolo coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic described the victory as an important win which gives Zambia the needed confidence as they prepare for both AFCON qualifiers and the CHAN tournament to be held in Cameroon next year.
Unlike in the last two games against Malawi and Kenya, Zambia began the game against South Africa on a promising note despite the home team having dominated ball possession with mid fielder Percy Tau forcing goal keeper Sebastian Mwange to produce a superb save from a free kick outside the 18-yard.
Zambia’s first attempt on goal came in the 11th minute when Collins Sikombe’s effort was blocked for a conner.
Defender Thandi Mwape almost made up for scoring an own goal against Kenya when his attempt to score through a back-heel from a Sikombe corner was saved by the Bafana Bafana goal keeper.
Mwape almost got his name on the score sheet on the half hour mark but saw his header going wide before Lubambo Musonda’s sublime shot which came off the post in the 36th minute.
Belgium-based striker Fashion Sakala had a chance to put Zambia ahead in the last minute of added time before the break but his left footed striker went over the bar as the first half ended scoreless.
In the second half, Micho introduced Leonard Mulenga for Collins Sikombe while Emmanuel Chabula came in for Lubambo Musonda.
The coach also brought in Mubanga Kampamba while Gamphani Lungu came in for Evans Kangwa.
Before the subs could settle, South Africa went ahead through Dolly who benefitted from Percy Tau’s defence splitting pass before going past Mwange to put the goal in an empty net.
Zambia, however, redeemed themselves through Kampamba who scored the equaliser after benefitting from Chabulas’s assists in the 77th minute while Zulu scored the winner three minutes later to humiliate Bafana Bafana at their home ground.
Zambia yesterday met South African giants Orlando Pirates and will also play Sundown’s in friendly matches for the local players as the foreign based stars were expected to return to their respective bases.
SUN SPORTS writes