Chipolopolo coach Aggrey Chiyangi has defended his team’s unconvincing display in Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Botswana in their 2020 CHAN second round, final leg qualifier at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Chipolopolo came from behind twice against a very plucky Botswana to clinch a hard-fought-for victory to advance to the final qualifying stage 3-2 on aggregate following a 0-0 first leg draw on July 26 away in Francistown.
But there was little improvement if any by Zambia from the stuttering display by the same team that had beaten Botswana 1-0 in the 2019 COSAFA Cup final on June 8 in Durban.
“They are coming from pre-season rest of the previous season and to play a match of such magnitude is not easy, they have really pushed very hard,” Chiyangi said.
“And also for us, as we play the next the next round, we have to make sure we improve our physical condition.”
Chipolopolo rallied twice to secure their passage after Omaatla Kebatho put Botswana ahead in the 8th minute but Emmanuel Chabula equalized in the 12th minute.
Botswana restored their lead in the 21st minute through Segolame Boy but Zambia restored parity in dramatic style on the stroke of halftime when Kelvin Mubanga fired in a fine free kick.
The drama didn’t end there when 63rd minute substitute Bruce Musakanya tapped -in Mubanga’s pass just two minutes after coming on the pitch for Ernest Mbewe.
However, Zambia had goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange to thank after he made three critical saves after that to crash Botswana’s hopes.
“And the other thing is we have to look at the team. We have to work very hard to ensure that coordination of the team is better than what we did today,” Chiyangi said.
“Another thing we have to understand is that, yes, we have many players in Zambia, but you must understand that whichever player we look at, the first thing you have to look at is physical fitness.
“Football nowadays is played in two phases; it is attack and defence.
“Even though people cry for players, we pick on those two basis: players who can play in attack and defence.”
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo now face eSwatini in the final qualifying round away on September 21 while the final leg will follow in Lusaka on October 19.
Victor over both legs will qualify to the CHAN tournament that Cameroon will host this January.