Zambia and South Africa cross swords in a crunch Cosafa Cup semifinal tie this evening in the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup 2023 at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban.
This is Zambia’s biggest test at this year’s competition as they bid to successfully defend their COSAFA Cup crown that they won in Durban last year.
Coach Moses Sichone said it is time for the boys to stand up and be counted after a challenging time and in the group stage where they secured their semi-final passage as the best second-placed team.
The Chipolopolo are gunning for an unprecedented seventh COSAFA Cup title at their lucky home away from home in Durban, where they won their last two regional titles in 2019 and 2022.
However, one would have to go back 25 years to see the last time Zambia won back-to-back COSAFA Cup titles.
“It will be a final before a final, and the boys are ready to make Mother Zambia proud.
This game will determine our fate in the race to retain the title. We are playing a team that will have fans packed in the stadium, and I think that should motivate the boys to prove and show they are defending champions. We are in this Semi-final to seek a slot in the finals and nothing less,” Sichone said.
Sichone has rallied his troops to go into the encounter mentally prepared, adding that South Africa was not a pushover team.
“We anticipate a tough match, but the target is to get an outright win. We anticipate a fast-passing game like we do when the two teams clash. We have told the boys to be calm and enjoy themselves. You know the rivalry that exists, but we are going into the game with a mindset of a champion,” he said.
“This will be a game where when you sleep, you lose. So, we have to be tactically disciplined and always alert. We know fans back home expect nothing less than victory from the team, we have prepared and worked on the mistakes we made during the Group stage, and I think the boys are ready for the challenge”.
“For now, our focus is on the South Africa game, we shall talk about the finals when we cross the bridge. Yes, we respect South Africa because they have a good side, but football is played on the pitch, and it will depend on who wants the slot in the finals more than the other. As a technical bench, we are demanding an outright win. The attitude and willingness to defend the title will matter the most,” said Sichone.
And team captain Kelvin Kapumbu said the team was ready for South Africa.
“We are ready for South Africa. We expect a tough game, but we are equal to the task. We have worked on the mistakes and shall give our best to carry the day and progress to the finals. The coaches have emphasised the need to communicate and always be alert when in attack or defending. The target is to carry the day and nothing else. To our fans, rally behind us; we shall not disappoint you. We shall put in our best against South Africa and promise to win the game,” said Kapumbu.
Sichone will maintain the same starting line with Lawrence Mulenga in between the sticks while Killian Kanguluma, Mathews Chabala, Samson Mkandwire, and John Chishimba will complete the back four.
Kelvin Kapumbu, Fredrick Mulambia, and Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba are expected to provide cover to the defenders and ensure a smooth transition into the attack, while Abraham Siankombo, Albert Kangwanda, and Moyela Libamba are expected to lead the attack.