Chipolopolo kicks off its Cameroon 2021 CHAN campaign on Tuesday when they face Tanzania in their Group D opener in Limbe.
Zambia also head into the CHAN with a specter hanging over the home-based team following Chipolopolo A’s AFCON qualification failures in 2017 and 2019- with possibly another one looming for 2021 that will also be stage in Cameroon.
But Chipolopolo’s CHAN run has been a huge contrast to the AFCON, and they head into their third successive tournament after reaching the quarterfinals in 2016 and 2018 but have yet to better their third place finish in the inaugural championship in 2009.
The pressure is especially on Chipolopolo coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic who has just two competitive games in charge of Zambia from 13 matches since his appointment in February 2020 with the rest being friendlies.
Micho’s only competitive matches were in the 2021 AFCON Group H qualifying race where Zambia has collect a home win and away defeat against Botswana following a litany of friendlies after a six month international lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In football, it is the same as t is in life. First you need to plant the seeds and that is what we are planning to do on the field of play tomorrow,” Micho said.
“That will give us a performance and result after. So let our actions talk more than our words about our ambitions tomorrow.”
Micho will be banking on strikers Collins Sikombe and his Lusaka Dynamos club mate Emmanuel Chabula to lead their attack against Tanzania.
Sikombe, who was not part of the CHAN qualifiers has seven goals from all of Micho’s 13 games in charge, will be the Serbians’ trump card in their Group D matches against Tanzania, Guinea and Namibia.
But Chabula, who was Zambia’s CHAN qualifier top scorer on three goals, is currently on a seven-game draught since scoring in a brace in a 3-1 friendly win over Ethiopia on October 25.
Looming in the shadows is late call-up Zanaco striker Moses Phiri who has two goals and the first came in the 1-1 draw during the All-Stars vs. The-Rest that saw him picked after shinning for the latter team on December 28 in Lusaka.
Meanwhile, Micho will be hoping his winless run against Great Lakes sides since he took charge will end on Tuesday following two friendly defeats.
Chipolopolo lost 2-1 away to Kenya on October 9 in Nairobi and Uganda 2-0 on January 4 in a pre-CHAN tournament in Cameroon.