Zambia U23 coach Beston Chambeshi is backing his core players who have lacked game time at their respective clubs to deliver at the Egypt 2019 U23 AFCON next month.
Two thirds of Chambeshi’s 2017 U20 AFCON winning team, that recently secured 2019 U23 AFCON qualification, have suffered from little game time at their respective clubs.
Zanaco goalkeeper Mangani Banda remains second -choice Toaster Nsabata, while in defence, Prosper Chiluya of Kabwe Warriors is the only regular starter at his club in the U23 backline.
“As you have seen we are trying to mix here and there but the most important thing is the longer they stay in camp, they always pick up form and we will continue building on that,” Chambeshi said.
Despite the lack of game time, Zambia has conceded just four goals in their last four U23 AFCON qualifiers that all came in the last round against Congo -Brazzaville whom they beat 2-1 in Lusaka and drew 3-3 with at Pointe Noire to secure their ticket to next month’s Egypt finals.
Zesco United defender Solomon Banda, who has also seen little game time with the defending champions, also believes the long training camps have helped raise their competitive edge.
“For sure, game time is rare for players like me and others especially us the defenders but I don’t think it a problem because we push ourselves very hard in camp and we haven’t actually conceded as many goals as perceived by people,” Banda said.
Chipolopolo U23 are currently in the second week of a local pre-tournament training camp in Lusaka and are expected to set up final base abroad next month in transit to Cairo.
Chambeshi’s side is in Group B together with Cote d’Ivoire, 2015 bronze medal winners South Africa and defending champions Nigeria.