Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Chipolopolo Commence 2022 CHAN Qualifier Race

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Chipolopolo are in Maputo to exorcise a ghost from their recent past when they face Mozambique in a 2022 CHAN first round, first leg qualifier.

Sunday’s meeting will be the two sides first since the 2019 AFCON qualifiers, an episode still very fresh in the minds of all Zambians.

Mozambique beat Zambia home and away to end their winless era against Chipolopolo that subsequently saw The Mambas also qualify for AFCON.

But Chipolopolo play Mozambique fresh from contrasting fortunes from last weekend’s 2022 COSAFA Cup held just next door in Durban, South Africa.

Mozambique finished fourth while Chipolopolo lifted a record -equaling sixth COSAFA Cup title.

2022 COSAFA Cup Player of the  Tournament and Zesco United midfielder Kelvin Mubanga  admits the pressure of lifting the regional title on July 17  has brought some obvious  pressure heading into   Sundays CHAN qualifier.

“We know that the pressure is going to be on us and they are seven of guys who are experienced in the team who played in the AFCON qualifiers in June so we know what we are capable of doing,” Mubanga said.

“As we prepare for the CHAN qualifier against Mozambique, we just have to up our game score there and win and come and finish the job at home.”

The home-based Zambia A  side regulars in the CHAN side and include Mubanga’s Zesco club mates goalkeeper Mwenya Chibwe and defender Shemmy Mayembe.

Defenders Dominic Chanda and  Benedict Chepeshi, midfielder Prince Mumba including goalkeeper Charles Kalumba  are the other members from  June’s 2023 AFCON qualifiers team.

But out is Zesco midfielder Spencer Sautu who suffered a knee injury in the 1-0 COSAFA Cup final win over Namibia.

The spot-light will also be on new boy Joshua Mutale  after the Power  Dynamos midfielders impressive  COSAFA Cup outing  and expectations high to see him  continue from where he left  off in Durban where he won the Man of the Match award in  the final.

Meanwhile, Chipolopolo will host Mozambique in the final leg on July 30 in Lusaka and the winner over both legs will advance to next month’s final phase to face Malawi for a spot at CHAN that Algeria will host from January 8-31.

Malawi sailed through to the final stage after a walkover win against Zimbabwe whose FIFA ban is still in place.

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