Zambia U20 team on Friday wrapped up the final week of local training camp in Lusaka before heading to West Africa to play three friendly games with a practice match win over Young Zanaco at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka.
Chisi Mbewe’s side will play two pre-tournament friendlies against Nigeria and one against Senegal next week en route to next month’s 2023 U20 AFCON in Egypt.
Both Nigeria and Senegal are also 2023 U20 AFCON bound.
Zambia will kick off their West African tour against Nigeria in Abuja with dates on January 27 and 30 in Abuja.
They will later face Senegal in Dakar on February 2.
“We were really in need of these friendly games and for some of the boys, it will be their first time to play against West African teams,” Zambia U20 assistant coach Albert Mphande said.
“It will give us some good position from where to start.”
And Zambia is now exactly a month away from the 2023 U20 AFCON that Egypt will host from February 19 to March 11.
Zambia qualified for the U20 AFCON after lifting the 2022 COSAFA U20 Cup title and will represent the Southern region at the twelve-team tournament together with the team they beat in the final and former holders Mozambique.
“I think in terms of readiness, physically we are about 75 per cent, mentally we are almost there and we are about 65 per cent,” Mphande said.
“As you know, this is not COSAFA; this is AFCON U20 we need to psych them to that high level.”
Zambia is Group C where they will play Gambia, Tunisia and Benin in Alexandria.
The semifinalist in Egypt will all qualify for the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia from May 20 to June 11.
It is also important to note that Zambia is returning to the U20 AFCON for the first time since they won it on home soil in Lusaka in 2017.
Meanwhile, Zambia wrapped up this week’s training camp with a 4-0 win over third division side Young Zanaco.
Derrick Bulaya scored a brace while Moses Mulenga and Songa Chipyoka added a goal each.
“Yes, this is what we wanted to see. It is really encouraging for the technical bench but now we need these goals in the actual tournament. Yes, it is friendly but it has given us a good picture,” Mphande said.