Defending champions Chipolopolo face Botswana today in a last ditch effort to save their fading interests in the 2021 COSAFA Cup.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s side is on the brink of a first round exit as hopes of tying with Zimbabwe with a record-equalling sixth COSAFA Cup title fade.
Zambia are fifth and bottom of Group A on zero points from two games played and with two matches left to play while Botswana are third and tied on 3 points with fourth placed Lesotho.
Leaders South Africa and second placed Eswatini are level on 6 points from two and three games played respectively.
The top two finishers from Group A and Group B qualify to the semifinals on July 16.
“We are still only theoretically in the tournament and we have two matches ahead of us and we need to win both matches convincingly in order to have any chance of qualifying,” Micho said.
Six points are all Chipolopolo can gather and that too may not be enough with Eswatini and South Africa needing just a draw each to eliminate Zambia from the equation.
Meanwhile, Zambia have been unconvincing even when blessed with their strongest-ever assembled COSAFA side since 2007.
Chipolopolo threw away a one-nil halftime lead to lose 1-0 to Lesotho in their opening Group A game on July 8 before a blunt display on July 10 against Eswatini who beat them 1-0.
That sequence of results saw Chipolopolo for the first time suffer back-to-back defeats at COSAFA.
Expectations were high that Chipolopolo could redeem themselves at COSAFA after their 2022 AFCON qualification failure and a humbling 2021 CHAN quarterfinal exit.
But the salvage job at COSAFA where preliminary stage elimination is looming has so far raised more questions than answers as September’s 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers loom.