Chipolopolo kick-off their two match friendly tour of West Africa this Thursday with a date against Niger in Niamey.
Aggrey Chyangi’s team are in West Africa to play Niger on October 10 and Benin on October 13 in Cotonou.
Chipolopolo is using the friendlies to prepare for their three qualifying matches coming up over the next four weeks.
The first one involves the fourteen home-based players in the 23-member team away in West Africa who will return home and straight into 2020 CHAN qualifying action on October 19 against eSwatini in a final round, last leg match enjoying a 1-0 away first leg win in Manzini.
The other two competitive dates are in November away to Algeria on November 11 and Zimbabwe at home on November 16 in Zambia’s opening 2021 AFCON Group H qualifiers.
Thursday’s match will be Chipolopolo and Niger’s third-ever meeting since the 2015 AFCON qualifiers that Zambia won 3-0 at home and drew 0-0 away under ex -coach Honour Janza.
“The game against Niger is very important for us especially that we are preparing for two games of which the first one is the CHAN qualifier on the 19th and the AFCON qualifiers coming later in November,” Chiyangi said.
“The reason why these games are important is the players should get a feel of playing away from home especially that our first (AFCON) game will be away (against Algeria).”
Critical in the friendlies for Chiyangi will be to look at other combinations in the absence of strikers Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala and midfielder Enock Mwepu who will miss the Group H qualifiers due to 2019 U23 AFCON tournament duty in November away in Egypt.
“As for the AFCON qualifiers we are trying to see the best players that we can come up for the games. So to those that have been given a chance to play, you just have to do your best and prove that you deserve your position,” Chiyangi said.
“These friendly games are very important for us. We really need to get the best out of every player that we have here.
“For those that are with the Under-23, we excused them because it is important for them to qualify for the Olympics since we believe we have a team that came go to the Olympics.”
Midfielders Larry Bwalya, Bruce Musakanya and Kelvin Mubanga, who have enjoyed COSAFA and CHAN mileage but have been on the fringes of the main team, are all hoping to impress for next November’s Group H doubleheader.
Strikers Emmanuel Chabula and Mwape Musonda should continue to put their hands up after impressing at the 2019 COSAFA Cup and during June’s Morocco friendly tour camp respectively.
However, Chiyangi faces a frantic tactical juggling act following the late arrival today on the eve of game of two-thirds of his defensive anchors Mwila Phiri, Clement Mwape,Simon Silwimba,Tandi Mwape and Kabaso Chongo due late club commitments.
GOALKEEPERS: Sebastian Mwange (Green Eagles), Lawrence Mulenga (Power Dynamos), Toaster Nsabata (Zanaco)
DEFENDERS: Simon Silwimba, Mwila Phiri, Adrian Chama, Clement Mwape (all Zesco United), Lawrence Chungu (Zanaco), Isaac Shamujompa (Buildcon) Tandi Mwape, Kabaso Chongo (both TP Mazembe, DR Congo ), Salulani Phiri (Polokwane City, South Africa)
MIDFIELDERS: Bruce Musakanya (Red Arrows), Kelvin Kapumbu (Zanaco), Larry Bwalya (Power Dynamos) Kelvin Mubanga (Nkana), Donashano Malama (Black Leopards, South Africa), Clatous Chama (Simba SC, Tanzania)
STRIKERS: Emmanuel Chabula (Nkwazi), Augustine Mulenga Justin Shonga (both Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Lazarus Kambole (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa),Mwape Musonda (Black Leopards, South Africa)