Zambia’s Chipolopolo facing a tall order to the Mambas of Mozambique
Zambia’s Chipolopolo face a tall order away to the Mambas of Mozambique in Group C Nations Cup qualifying action on Sunday.
Mozambique lead the standings with four points from two matches and their home ground, the Estadio Machava in Maputo, is something of a fortress even though Libya held them to a 0-0 draw there in September.
Zambia reached the last eight at the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola, but a long-drawn political upheaval at the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ)threatens to make nonsense of the gains achieved by the team.
Coach Dario Bonetti has a full compliment of his top stars like the Katongo brothers, Chris and Felix, Collins Mbesuma and James Chamanga to choose from for this match.
They trained in Pretoria, South Africa, before they flew out to Mozambique on Friday.
Experienced midfielder Isaac Chansa has rediscovered his form at South African giants Orlando Pirates and will now tip this current generation of the Chipolopolo to make an even bigger splash at continental level.
Zambia reached the quarter-finals in Angola last year by clinching a tight group ahead of Cameroon, Gabon and Tunisia, and they were unfortunate to be eliminated by Nigeria on penalties.
Angola 2010 was the first time the Zambians had managed to make it past the first round of the Cup of Nations finals since their third-place finish at the 1996 event in South Africa.
Chansa, who has been to the last three tournaments, maintained that the current Zambia side stand the best chance of making a credible tilt at the title.
“I can safely say this is a much stronger side because we’ve been together for three to four years now, and we have a lot more experience than we did two years ago. For us now obviously the first thing is to look to qualify, and once we’ve achieved that, then we will want to do better than we did in Angola,” he said.
Mozambique will most certainly pose a big threat to Chansa’s ambitions.
“Mozambique are a good team, we played against them just before we went to the last finals in Angola, and we are expecting them to come at us. But we will be going there with a positive attitude,” said the upbeat midfielder, who has been in and out of the national team set-up.
And coach Bonetti has backed Chansa to become the calming influence in the midfield for his team in Maputo and beyond.
Libya, who are second in this group with four points, will host the Comoros Islands in Bamako, capital of Mali, on Monday following the uprising in their country./supersport