Faz has confirmed that the Zambia-Chad 2008 Africa Cup, Group 11 qualifying tie will be played at Konkola stadium on June 16.
The announcement ends all speculation of the possibility that the qualifier will be shifted to an alternative venue following the death of 12 fans during a stampede at Konkola on June 2 at the end of Zambia’s 3-0 win over Congo-Brazzaville.
“The Zambia-Chad match will be played at Konkola,” Faz spokesman Joseph Nkole said today. “Other details related to the match will be announced at later date.”
12 fans died and another dozen injured while trying to exit Konkola at the end of Zambia’s game against Congo-Brazzaville.
A commission of inquiry charged to investigate the accident is due to release its findings in the coming days.
The incident at Konkola is the second in two years at the venue with the last one coming on March 26, 2005- again in another match involving Congo-Brazzaville that Zambia won 2-0.
In that match, fans hanging on to an aging floodlight pylon caused severe stress to the steel structure while celebrating Zambia’s second goal from Collins Mbesuma in the 44th forcing it to collapse on fans sitting below in the stands while also watching the match.
Over 10 fans were hurt but no fatalities were reported.
The remaining pylons were eventually removed and extensive work done at the stadium after that incident following recommendations by a Fifa stadium committee inspection team that visited Konkola a week after the game.
Konkola was later demarcated into 8 sections with two gates each; one stadium perimeter and the other pitch-side.
The pitch-side gate are to be used as an emergency access ways to the playing area in case of crowd trouble during matches.
Entry and exit gates at Konkola were expanded from 4 to 8.
Meanwhile, the Zambia national team this morning left Lusaka for Dar es Salaam to play an international friendly against Tanzania tomorrow.
Head coach Patrick Phiri will be carrying a full-strength squad but will be without two key players whom he featured against Congo-Brazzaville last weekend.
Missing are strikers Jacob Mulenga (Chateauroux, France) and Collins Mbesuma (Maritimo, Portugal) who have been excused to attend to family and business obligations respectively.
Phiri will also use Saturdays match to assess three players ahead of the game against Chad.
Lusaka Dynamos defender Hichani Himoonde has been brought in as cover for injured veteran captain Elijah Tana (Al Jezeera, UAE) who is out due to a calf injury he sustained in the game against Congo-Brazzaville.
“We know about Hichani’s abilities after he impressed us when we played at the CECAFA Cup in Ethiopia in December,” Phiri said about the Zambia Under-23 defender.
Zesco United left-back Willy Chinyama who made an impressive debut last Saturday in Konkola will also be assessed after slotting in for Zanaco defender Joseph Musonda who has been given time off to rest after an illness for the last fortnight.
Chinyama’s club mate at Zesco Enoch Sakala also returns to the team after he was dropped for the Congo-Brazzaville game despite a high-profile debut away to Namibia on May 26 in Windhoek where he scored a brace in Zambia’s 2-1 win there.
Also in the traveling party for the Tanzania friendly is attacking midfielder Christopher Katongo of Danish 1st division club Brondby and he is expected to captain the team.
Katongo meanwhile confirmed today that he will be available for the Chad game and will only return to Denmark for pre-season camp on June 24.
Zambia returns home on Sunday where land back in Lusaka at 15:20 hrs.
GOALKEEPERS: George Kolala (Zanaco), Kennedy Mweene (Free State Stars, South Africa).
DEFENDERS: Hichani Himoonde (Lusaka Dynamos), Billy Mwanza (Lamontville Golden Arrows, South Africa), Kennedy Nkthani (Both Zanaco), Mark Sinyangwe (Nkana FC), Willy Chinyama (Zesco United).
MIDFIELDERS: James Chamanga (SuperSport United, South Africa), Rainford Kalaba (Zesco United), Felix Katongo (Clube Desportivo 1Âº de Agosto, Angola ), Lameck Njovu (Zanaco).
FORWARDS: Songwe Chalwe (Moroka Swallows, South Africa), Christopher Katongo (Brondby, Denmark), Ignatius Lwipa (Zanaco), Dube Phiri (Red Arrows), Enoch Sakala, Jonah Sakuwaha (Both Zesco United).