Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
ZAMBIA topping Group B at the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) is now water under the bridge.
The focus is now on Zambia’s next match against Sudan in Saturday’s quarter-final tie.
Zambia reached this stage two years ago when the Chipolopolo, under the tutelage of George Lwandamina, were eliminated by Guinea in the last eight.
Zambia lost 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation and extra time.
This is the third time Zambia are qualifying for the last eight of the tournament and skipper Ziyo Tembo and company should not be satisfied with the achievement of being quarter-finalists.
Tembo and his colleagues should aim for the final and lift the trophy.
Zambia reached the semi-finals of the inaugural tournament under Herve Renard in 2009 in Ivory Coast, thereby minting the bronze medal.
Two years after the quarter-final elimination, Wedson Nyirenda and his boys should aim at laying their hands on the trophy.
With self-belief, there is nothing impossible.
Nyirenda should guard against complacency ahead of the clash against Sudan.
He has ammunition in Toaster Nsabata, Tembo, Kondwani Mtonga, Ernest ‘Altezza’ Mbewe, Friday Samu, Lazarus Kambole and in-form Augustine Mulenga to gun down opponents that will stand in Zambia’s way.
Sudan are a top-drawer side that will be a hard nut to crack.
This calls for a serious approach from the Zambians ahead of the match, set for Marrakech Stadium.
The last time the teams clashed was in 2015 in the 2018 Russia World Cup preliminary round and Zambia won 3-0 on aggregate.
The Sudanese will not allow to be beaten twice in three years and will throw everything at Zambia.
In 21 matches dating back to October 27, 1968, Zambia have won 11 compared to Sudan’s six while four games have been drawn.
Saturday’s meeting will be the 22nd clash.
The Chipolopolo have performed to expectation in the last three matches and I am sure Mulenga, Mbewe, Kambole and Samu have caught the attention of several scouts representing European, Asian and African teams.
The four have what it takes to feature at the highest level.
Mulenga has been impressive and holds the key to Zambia’s success at CHAN.
He has all the attributes of a striker – pacey skill and above all he has sharpened his goal-scoring abilities.
I also would like to salute Zambian students in Morocco for mobilising themselves to rally behind the Chipolopolo.