Peter Kaumba’s Zambia Under 23 national team will face three West African opponents in Group B on the long and winding road to next years Beijing Olympic Games.
Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal are the three sides Zambia will play in Group B on league-basis starting this June until March 2008.
Coach Kaumba was this evening as emotionless and unmoved as he has ever when I caught up with him in Kitwe to ask him about his reaction to today’s draws.
“The draws are OK,” Was all the Zambia Under 23 with a smile and garnished with a classical Kaumba sound bite.
Zambia kickoff their quest for a place at the Beijing finals on June 2 with a mouthwatering opener at home against Cote d’Ivoire before traveling to Bamako to take on Mali during the weekend of August 22.
Senegal will come calling on September 8 before the two sides meet again in the return leg the following month during the weekend of October 12-13.
Kaumba’s men travel to Abidjan for their penultimate Group B match during the weekend of November 16-18-those dates marking the final Africa zone Olympic Games qualifying match days in 2007.
The climax of the qualifiers for Zambia will be on March 26, 2008 when they host Mali.
It will be the first time Zambia will play all three teams in Olympic Games qualifiers while they will be facing Mali for the first time ever at Under 23 level.
Zambia last played Cote d’Ivoire at the 1999 All Africa Games finals where they beat the latter 4-0 in a group stage game on Ben Bamfuchile’s teams’ way to winning silver.
Senegal too lost in the two sides’ last meeting in the same age group at the 2003 All Africa Games in Group A when Zambia won 2-1 in Bauchi, Nigeria .
2008 OLYMPIC GAMES GRP STAGE QUALIFIERS.
GRP A: ETHIOPIA, SOUTH AFRICA, GHANA, NIGERIA.
GRP B: COTE D’IVOIRE, MALI, SENEGAL, ZAMBIA.
GRP C: BOTSWANA, CAMEROON, GUINEA, MOROCCO.
Group winners qualify for Beijing finals.