Zambia’s quest to qualify for the 2018 CHAN finals in Kenya begins this Sunday when they visit Swaziland in first round, first leg tie.
The match comes a week after Zambia were crushed 3-1 by Zimbabwe in the 2017 COSAFA Cup final across the border in South Africa where they met in Rustenburg on July 9.
Coach Wedson Nyirenda has made over 13 changes from that vanquished team who include five players from defending FAZ Super Division Champions Zanaco and another six from 2016 runners-up Zesco United.
Players from both clubs missed the COSAFA Cup due to their respective continental commitments during that same period.
Nyirenda will be especially relieved to have defenders Ziyo Tembo and Taonga Bwembya from Zanaco including Zesco’s Fackson Kapumbu to complement Power Dynamos-target Isaac Shaujompa of Nchanga Rangers.
Also in the frame, as Zambia seek redemption after that COSAFA Cup final flop, is Zesco midfielder Kondwani Mtonga and Lusaka Dynamos playmaker Cletus Chama who should bring back some authority to that department that was lacking last week in Rustenburg.
Furthermore, Nyirenda needs an away win to take to the July 22 final home leg in Lusaka.
Victory will dispel any prospect of a repeat of the apathy Zambia endured in the 1-0 loss to Mozambique in a 2019 AFCON Group K qualifier on June 10 in Ndola as the Zambia Under-20 euphoria continues to strongly linger on.
Winner over both legs will face victor of the Bafana-Bafana vs Botswana first round tie in August for a place in January’s finals in Kenya.
Bafana Bafana won their first leg away tie on Saturday in Francistown after downing Botswana 2-0 thanks to goals from Ryan Moon in the 28th minute and Gift Motupa in the 72nd minute.
The two sides meet in the final leg on July 22 at Moruleng Stadium.