Zambia seeks a solid start in their 2018 CHAN Group B opener on Sunday when they face Uganda in Marrakech.
The match will mark Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda’s debut continental tournament in charge since losing 3-1 to Zimbabwe in the regional 2017 COSAFA Cup final last July in South Africa.
Sunday will also see Zambia return to action for the first time since November 11 when they drew 2-2 at home against Cameroon in Ndola in their final 2018 FIFA World Cup Group B qualifier.
Seven players who saw action against Cameroon including three unused substitutes in that match are all in Morocco.
“The players are here to showcase their quality and we are looking forward to go in the tournament,” Nyirenda said.
Zanaco attacking midfielder Augustine Mulenga and Power Dynamos striker Alex Ng’onga are expected lead in attack as Zambia seeks to maintain its tradition to collect a third successive opening day victory in a CHAN tournament.
Furthermore, Zambia has never failed to advance from the knockout round after finished 3rd in 2009 and the quarterfinals in 2016.
The spotlight will also be on Zanaco goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata who was veteran number one Kennedy Mweene’s understudy during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as debate rages on the latter’s successor.
But Nyirenda has one absentee for Sunday’s match with Power Dynamos midfielder Godfrey Ngwenya ruled out due to a knee injury he sustained during Zambia’s 3-1 win over South African club Orlando Pirates in a training game on January 10 in Johannesburg.
Meanwhile, Zambia and Uganda meet for the second successive time at CHAN after Chipolopolo beat The Cranes 1-0 in another group fixture at Rwanda 2016.
And Uganda head into their fourth successive CHAN outing still without an opening day win at the tournament where they have won just one game and have never advanced to the knockout round.