Zambia today starts preparations for the 2012 Equatorial Guinea/Gabon Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with an international friendly against the ‘Cranes’ of Uganda at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala.
The match will be Dario Bonetti’s debut after signing a two-year contract last month.
The absence of foreign-based players will give Bonetti an opportunity to assess local players.
Zambia will be without skipper Christopher Katongo, Jacob Mulenga, Felix Katongo, Joseph Musonda, Chintu Kampamba, Stopilla Sunzu and Emmanuel Mbola, all regulars at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Others who have not travelled include Emmanuel Mayuka, Given Singuluma and Hichani Himoonde.
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and midfielder Rainford Kalaba are the only regulars from the team that reached the quarter-finals in Angola.
Bonetti is likely to start with Mweene in goal although Kalililo Kakonje or Jacob Banda could be roped in as Bonetti wants to assess all the players.
Zambia’s backline will comprise Billy Mwanza, Nyambe Mulenga, Jimmy Chisenga and Brian Musonda.
Kalaba, William Njovu, Kennedy Chola and Arthur Kaseloki will do battle in midfield against Uganda’s Mike Sserumanga, Dan Waguluka and Vincent Kagizzi.
Rodger Kola and Enock Sakala will be tasked with the responsibility of getting goals.
In case the duo fail to impress, Bonetti is likely to bring in Luka Lungu and Kennedy Chola.
Uganda coach Bobby Williamson, tasked with qualifying the Cranes for the 2012 Africa Cup finals, has assembled a strong squad.
Williamson will however miss the services of injured midfielder David Obua of Scottish side Hearts.
Uganda will be seeking to preserve the Cranes’ five-year unbeaten run at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.
The Cranes’ defence will have skipper Ibrahim Sekagya (Red Bull Salzburg), Nestroy Kizito (Partizan Belgrade), Godfrey Walusimbi and Simeon Masaba.
Egypt-based Geoffrey Massa of Club Itesalat and Joseph Owino will lead the Cranes attack.
[ Zambia Daily Mail ]