Zambia face Senegal on Wednesday in an important battle for supremacy of Group A at the inaugural CHAN tournament when the two sides face-off in Abidjan in an 18:00 kickoff.
This game will be Zambia’s first real test of its staying power in the CHAN after all the hype surrounding their fairly easy 3-0 win against modest hosts Cote d’Ivoire in the tournaments opening game on Sunday.
Both Zambia and Senegal are on 3 points but the former lead Group A thanks to a superior goal difference after the latter beat Tanzania 1-0 in match two also on Sunday.
Victory for Zambia in their mid-week Group A game will hand the team its first major semifinal appearance slot in a senior Caf event since the 1996 Africa Cup tournament.
This match too is another test for Zanaco striker Given Singuluma’s reputation as CHAN top scorer with three goals as he tries to erase his part of Zambia’s Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup misadventure last month.
The same will go down for Herve Renard who is under pressure to avoid a case of De Ja Vu after the false down in Uganda.
Meanwhile, Zambia face a pragmatic Senegal whose pace and physical presence is surely to test Renard’s adventurous flair from their game against Cote d‘Ivoire.
Zambia’s captain Kebby Hachipuka of Green Eagles should be a key figure in what is expected to be potentially a bruising battle ahead against Senegal.
Senegal are certain not to give too much respect to midfielders Henry Banda of Zanaco and including Zesco United’s William Njobvu following their impressive display against Cote d’Ivoire.
Moreover, Renard’s side were not tested defensively on Sunday and looked suspiciously suspect when Ivorian striker Florent Sahoure bear down on them for the 79 minutes was on the pitch before being red carded.
And defender Elijah Tana is set to start after his arrival in Abidjan on Monday and should bring some stability and experience though he will be certainly short on pace against an expected rampaging attack from the Senegalese.
However, Renards biggest worry is the left back where Power Dynamos’ Perry Mubanga, as expected, was exposed- something familiar with the defenders form over the years.
And in the second Group A penultimate match, winless Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania meet in the second kickoff at the same venue each hoping to keep their CHAN dreams alive.