Chipolopolo Embark on AFCON Road to Redemption


Chipolopolo Zambia’s battle to end their seven-year AFCON absence kicks off this Friday when they visit Cote d’Ivoire away in Yamoussoukro.

Kickoff is at 21h00 Zambian time at Stade Yamoussoukro.

Zambia head into their opening Group H match on the back of three straight flops to qualify for AFCON.

Chipolopolo’s last appearance was in 2015 in Equatorial Guinea where they made a preliminary stage exit.

“Of course we have disappointed them (our fans) at various times but you know the only way we can achieve our goals is to show unity,” Chipolopolo captain Enock Mwepu said.

“So we need them a lot. We need them to come and support us and give us that energy.

“For us, we know we need to give them what they desire and what they deserve so I think this is the moment when we can bring back those glory days which is the winning mentality and just make them proud.”

Cote d’Ivoire has qualified as hosts but the points count administratively for Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho to decide who will join The Elephants in Abidjan next June.

Group H is the only group where one team will qualify to AFCON and they must either finish first or second behind Cote d’Ivoire.

The match will also mark coach Aljosa Asanovic’s competitive debut following his appointment in January after collecting two defeats and a win in March’s friendlies.

Asanovic has a full squad that includes the prime attacking duo of Patson Daka from Leicester City in England and Glasgow Rangers forward Fashion Sakala.

Brighton midfielder Mwepu will be the key man in midfield.

And Cote d’Ivoire are not a new experience to Mwepu and Company after feeling The Elephants wrath in a June, 2019 friendly away in Abu Dhabi that Chipolopolo lost 4-1.

And now the players are more mature, particularly the trio playing on both sides of the border in Britain, and it is on them that the burden to lead the charge will fall on Friday evening.

Friday will also mark defender Frankie Musonda’s competitive debut after playing his first two games for Zambia in the March friendlies against Congo-Brazzaville and Benin.

Meanwhile, Zambia will also be aiming to end a two match losing start in the qualifiers after drawing their other previous two qualifiers.

Chipolopolo traces its last opening day win to 2012 when they beat Uganda 1-0 in Ndola on their way to qualifying for 2013 AFCON in South Africa where they relinquished their crown with a preliminary stage exit.

And Chipolopolo will wrap up their June Group H qualifiers on June 7 when they host Comoros in Lusaka.

Comoros are in action on Friday afternoon at home against Lesotho.


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