Zambia has launched preliminary preparations for the second round of the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

The team has regrouped in Lusaka ahead of the second round battle against Malawi in March.

Team assistant coach Bilton Musonda said Zambia must qualify for the Under-23 AFCON to salvage the nation’s pride in Africa.

The Senior Team has failed to qualify for the Africa Cup twice in row.

‘We are trying to work extra hard so that we go to the Africa Cup as a nation. The Under-23 is the only team we are looking at qualifying for the Africa Cup after our senior team failed to qualify for the AFCON,’ Musonda said.

‘You may say it is the Under-23 team but this group is next to the Senior Team,’ he said.

Musonda said Zambia shouldn’t underrate Malawi.

‘There is no small country in this era of football; you have seen how Malawi, Botswana and Namibia are doing it,’ he said.

‘It is a wakeup call for us as a nation that we should start looking at where we have gone wrong and what we are not doing right.’

Musonda added: ‘We need to work extra hard so that we continue to be the powerhouse in Southern Africa. A lot of nations have been learning from us.’

Zambia will be in Malawi on March 20 and the return leg will be played three days later.

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