DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO, Lusaka
NATIONAL team coach Honour Janza has named his final 23 to do battle in Equatorial Guinea, dropping China-based striker James Chamanga and three others.
The rest missing the flight for the Africa Cup of Nations are Nchanga Rangers goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata, defenders Bronson Chama of Red Arrows and Aaron Katebe, who plies his trade for Zimbabwean outfit FC Platinum.
Janza was under pressure for keeping Chamanga whose scoring record with the national team has been average and whose age is advanced.
The 36-year-old has scored four goals for the squad since 2006.
Chamanga is a veteran of five Africa Cup of Nations appearances and was part of the 2012 squad that conquered the continent.
Chamanga joins on the sidelines Christopher Katongo, his younger brother Felix, Joseph Musonda, Hichani Himoonde and Jonas Sakuwaha, all Africa Cup winners.
Under-20 national team players – Lubambo Musonda, Spencer Sautu and Patrick Ngoma, have made the cut.
South Africa-based midfielder Mukuka Mulenga, who has recovered from an ankle injury, is also on the flight to Equatorial Guinea.
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and skipper Rainford Kalaba, who will both be making their sixth appearance at the continental showpiece, are in Janzaâ€™s plans.
MTN Super Division top scorer Jackson Mwanza of Zesco United is in the team.
Unveiling the squad in Johannesburg yesterday, Janza said all the players have put in their best in the run-up to the Africa Cup of Nations.
â€œIt has been a very competitive camp where every player was trying hard to make the grade but unfortunately we only have 23 places available and as such we had to part company with the four. This selection is based purely on current performance for each player,â€ Janza said.
On the under-20 players, Janza said it is important to continuously engage in capacity building.
â€œThis is not the last Africa Cup we are participating in, so it is vital that we have some young players being introduced to competitions of such nature. The Ngomas and Sautus are the future for Chipolopolo and the experience they gain now will definitely pay dividends in our future continental assignments,â€ he said.
And team doctor Joseph Kabungo is optimistic that first choice goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene will be fully fit for the tournament.
Mweeneâ€™s recurring groin injury was triggered during the friendly against South Africa on Sunday.
â€œHe is still on light training but we are confident he will be fully fit for the tournament. Like I said earlier, his injury is not threatening, it is manageable,â€ Kabungo said.
Goalkeeper: Kennedy Mweene (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Daniel Munyao (Red Arrows), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos).
Defenders: Stopilla Sunzu (Shanghai Shenua, China), Donashano Malama (Nkana), Christopher Munthali (Power Dynamos),Davies Nkausu (SuperSport United, South Africa), Emmanuel Mbola (Hapoel Raâ€™anana, Israel), Roderick Kabwe (Zanaco).
Midfielders: Nathan Sinkala (Grasshoppers, Switzerland), Chisamba Lungu (FC Ural, Russia), Kondwani MtongaÂ (Zesco United), Spencer Sautu (Green Eagles), Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe, DRC), Lubambo Musonda (Ulisses FC, Armenia), Mukuka Mulenga (Bloemfontein Celtics, South Africa), Bruce Musakanya (Red Arrows)
Strikers: Ronald Kampamba (Nkana), Given Singuluma (TP Mazembe, DRC), Jackson Mwanza (Zesco United), Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton, England), Evans Kangwa (Hapoel Raâ€™anana, Israel) and Patrick Ngoma (Red Arrows).
DIANA MUTAKAFIMBO, Lusaka