Unbeaten Aggrey Chiyangi on Thursday faces his biggest test as caretaker Chipolopolo coach.
Chipolopolo take on defending African champions Algeria in a 2021 AFCON Group H opening qualifier away in Blida.
Chiyangi is unbeaten in his last ten games in charge since he was handed the job in an interim capacity last March after Sven Vandenbroeck’s nine month reign was not extended.
Despite collecting four wins abd six draws, Algeria are about the biggest top ten African side Chiyangi will face in his nine months at the helm.
Furthermore, Zambia face Algeria for the first time since September 2017 when Chipolopolo completed a historic double over the two-time African champions winning 3-1 in Lusaka plus a debut away victory when they left Constantine with a 1-0 result in a 2018 World Cup Group B qualifying fixture.
Defender Kabaso Chongo, who was appointed captain by Chiyangi in his first game in charge against Namibia nine months ago, said they were under no illusions about what awaits them at Algeria’s fortress in Blida.
“It is possible to hold them again if we work together as a unit. Football is dynamic, anything can happen,” Kabaso said.
Meanwhile, the pressure is back on Chipolopolo after their U23 counterparts’ 2020 Olympic Games qualifying hopes were dented on November 12 following a 3-1 loss to Nigeria in a 2017 U23 AFCON U23 tournament Group B match in Cairo.
Moreover, it’s a complicated situation as Chipolopolo embark on the first steps down redemption road after failing to qualify for their last two AFCON’s.
But Chiyangi still has ample firepower at his disposal in Blida led by Justin Shongo and Lazarus Kambole who are a different disposition at Chipolopolo despite their enigmatic form at Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates respectively.
Chipolopolo also face Algeria for the first time without veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene who has yet to receive a call-up in Chiyangi’s regime.
And son the unenviable job of keeping a clean sheet against the African champions is likely to be handled by Zanaco’s Toaster Nsabata as the battle to win the public’s confidence back in Chipolopolo begins.