Zambia mark their CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) return with a big derby against Zimbabwe on Tuesday in Rubavu, Rwanda.
This is Zambia’s first game back at CHAN after failing to qualify for the last two editions of the competitions since finishing 3rd in 2009 at the inaugural tournament hosted by Cote d’Ivoire.
But George Lwandamina’s side heads into the tournament without striker Winston Kalengo whose three goals in the qualifiers inspired Zambia to victory.
Kalengo is ineligible for the tournament after moving abroad to join AC Leopards this month on a one year deal.
CHAN is a second tier Africa Cup tournament exclusively for home-based players.
However, Lwandamina will be banking on the experience of 2012 Africa Cup winning duo of Green Buffaloes striker Christopher Katongo and Zanaco midfielder Isaac Chansa who were last minute inclusions in the team.
Meanwhile, the meeting has the hallmarks of a grudge match after Zimbabwe eliminated Zambia from the qualifiers of the 2014 edition.
The elimination was even more painful from that match saw Zambia suffer an embarrassing and rare 1-0 home loss in Ndola where they had not lost in over 40 years prior to that defeat in August, 2013.
And Tuesday’s meeting will mark the first time the two record four-time Cosafa Cup winners will meet in a high-level CAF tournament after dominating their regional zone.