ZIMBABWE’S opponents in the opening match of the African Nations Championship, Zambia, have set the pace in their preparations for the Group D matches after they announced yesterday they will set up a training camp in South Africa where they also hope to play at least one international friendly match against Angola.
The Warriors are set to rekindle the Southern Africa derby with Chipolopolo on January 19 after the teams were drawn in the same group at the fourth edition to be held in Rwanda from January 16 to February 7.
But it looks like the Zambians are fast getting their act together following a slow start to their preparations.
Similarly, the Warriors also had a slow start to their preparations.
Zambia Football Association yesterday posted on their Twitter account that the Chipolopolo CHAN squad will step up their preparations in South Africa as they hope to make the most of the remaining two weeks of preparations.
Association spokesman Nkweto Tembwe yesterday said besides Angola, they are also looking to engage two South Africa Premiership teams during their training camp to sharpen their side.
“The team is expected to travel to Johannesburg on Friday where they will play a friendly against Angola and possibly two friendlies against top South African clubs,” said Tembwe.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, were by yesterday still not sure about the prospects of getting a friendly match. The Warriors continued with their preparations praying that they will not experience more injuries in their camp after five players were dropped at the weekend due to knocks.
Skipper Danny Phiri, Hillary Bakacheza, Raphael Kutinyu, Teenage Hadebe and goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya have since been dropped to leave the technical team with a quad of 27.
Coach Callisto Pasuwa is expected to announce his squad shortly before departure probably next Sunday. The coach had indicated that he had wanted friendly matches to test his side’s preparedness but it is now highly unlikely because of the little time left.
ZIFA had indicated they were in talks with Togo and Mozambique for possible sparring partners but by yesterday nothing had materialised.
Chipolopolo on their part resumed training yesterday after returning from the New Year’s holidays.
Zambia, who are under the guidance of George Lwandamina, convened at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium where their new assistant coach, Irfan Kawri, was formally introduced to the squad.
All the players initially summoned for this assignment are in camp except Winstone Kalengo and Charles Zulu.
Chipolopolo midfielder Noah Chivuta said Zambia should aim to beat Zimbabwe in the opening match to set the tone for Chipolopolo success at the tournament.
“Lately in tournaments, we have not been doing so well, but let’s get three points in the first game when we go out there as that will be a morale booster going forward.
“Losing the first game will knock off our confidence, winning will build the team. The young boys should enjoy the tournament but apply their full potential. They can deliver,” said Chivuta.
The towering midfielder warned opponents that the Zambians will be hard to beat at the tournament. Zimbabwe and Zambia are in the same group with Mali and Uganda.
Chivuta, a member of the 2012 AFCON-winning team, told The Post Zambia that Chipolopolo is laden with talent.
“You can’t doubt the talent we have in Zambia. Anyone who is called to the national team — as long as they are committed — can deliver on any given day. You just have to trust the team.
“With good preparations, we will do exceedingly beyond what we have seen lately. We are hard to beat. Anywhere we go as the Zambia national team, everyone is afraid of us. So the players who are called to do duty for Zambia should commit themselves,” he said.
CHIPOLOPOLO SQUAD IN CAMP
Jacob Banda (Zesco United)
Racha Kola (Zanaco)
Lawrence Mulenga (Kabwe Warriors )
Christopher Munthali (Power Dynamos)
Solomon Sakala (Kabwe Warriors)
Boyd Mkandawire (Napsa Stars)
Donashano Malama (Nkana)
George Chilufya (Zanaco)
Bichizya Mfune (Green Buffaloes)
Adrian Chama (Green Buffaloes)
Dauti Musekwa (Zesco United)
Benson Sakala (Power Dynamos)
Mwape Mwelwa (Zesco United)
Cletus Chota (Zesco United)
Spencer Sautu (Green Eagles)
Mwila Phiri (Green Eagles)
Jack Chirwa (Green Buffaloes)
Isaac Chansa (Zanaco)
Salulani Phiri (Zanaco)
Conlyde Luchanga (Lusaka Dynamos)
Adamson Mulao (Green Eagles)
Patson Daka (Power Dynamos)
Christopher Katongo (Green Buffaloes)