Under-23 midfielder Enock ‘Computer’ Mwepu says the 3-3 away draw in Congo Brazzaville on Sunday summed up the never die spirit of the BolaNalesa boys.
The imperious Red Bull Salzburg midfielder said the team was not surprised by the shock penalty decision by Gabonese referee Issidore Essonp Nze in the 15th minute of the second leg away tie at the Alphonse Massamba-Debat Stadium.
Congo Brazzaville went ahead in the 15th minute through a penalty but Zambia bounced back through a Mwepu curler in the 26th minute before Patson Daka put the visiting team ahead in 51st minute.
Congo scored two quick fire goals in the 77th and 80th minute to lead 3-2 but Mwepu rose to the occasion and drew matters level with seven minutes to go.
Mwepu said the team was geared for any form of frustration and stood up to qualify with an enthralling performance.
“It was a challenge for us because that was not a penalty. We kept the belief knowing that every Zambian was there praying for us. We believed that this team cannot beat us,” he said.
“We just raised the courage within ourselves that we just have to do this. We expected frustrations, we expected that they would treat us that way. We gave it everything and goals came in. it was a plus to us.”
Mwepu who bagged a brace to help the team to a 5-4 aggregate win said the under-23 team was propelled by a strong sense of belief borne of their days at the under-20 level.
On his brace Mwepu said, “Unbelievable for me, it is something that I did not even expect. I did not expect that I would score. In football it is always a good thing to score.”
He added: “These things are special, it means everything to me, I am so happy and excited about my teammates. They gave everything up to the end. I am excited about the goals, I am praying that I will keep scoring for this team knowing that the best is yet to come.”
Mwepu also paid tribute to the supporter of the BolaNalesa squad that he credited with the all-conquering mentality.
“Our word for the supporters is to keep believing that we shall make the nation proud. Of course we have done it before and played games that have made them proud,” he said.
Zambia earned qualification to the Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday after defeating Congo Brazzaville 5-4 on aggregate.
The first leg in Lusaka ended 2-1 in favour of Zambia while the second leg was a 3-all draw.
Zambia will join eight other countries at the AFCON with the top three teams automatically qualifying to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.