ALEX NJOVU, ROBINSON KUNDA, Lusaka
SOUTH Africa coach Stuart Baxter is bubbling with confidence that his charges will stun Zambia in Saturday’s 2018 Kenya African Nations Championship (CHAN) last round return leg in Ndola.
And Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda has included Power Dynamos striker Alex Ng’onga in the squad.
Baxter said Bafana Bafana were unlucky to draw 2-2 with Zambia in East London.
“I don’t think the boys threw it away but they were just unlucky. The way they battled for their jersey was very admirable and this tie is certainly far from over. I don’t know how much more Zambia has got because they played that way against us the last time we met. And I think they will play that way again when we meet,” he said.
A goalless draw will secure Zambia qualification to the Kenya finals while South Africa need an outright win.
“The boys played well and made the most of what they got and I think at 2-0 up, I couldn’t see a way back for Zambia because they weren’t creating chances; 2-1 came out of the blue as I thought we were dangerous on the breaks as they were on attack.
“It really came as a damp squib. I thought, do I change things a bit, do I lock up? And then Tercious [Malepe] gets sent off, so I can’t lock up, instead I have to go 4-4-1. And then comes the last throw-in and the last kick of the match the ball ends up in the back of our net,” Baxter told Kickoff.com.
He, however, admitted that the Chipolopolo are a strong side.
Bafana Bafana have suffered a setback following clubs deciding to withdraw most of the players that featured in the first leg due to the 2017-18 season kicking off this weekend.
Menzi Masuku (Chippa United), Shane Thompson (Mthatha Bucks), Tshepo Mabua, Keegan Pool (both Stellenbosch FC) and Gift Motupa (Baroka FC) have returned to their clubs while defender Tercious Malepe is suspended.
And Nyirenda has included Ng’onga to strengthen the frontline.
Football Association of Zambia communications manager Desmond Katongo said in Lusaka yesterday that Ng’onga is the only inclusion.
Ng’onga was called for the first leg but was excused due to family commitments.
Meanwhile, FAZ president Andrew Kamanga has warned the Chipolopolo against complacency ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Speaking when he addressed national team players at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka on Sunday night, Kamanga said the team did well to hold South Africa.
“The boys are 90 minutes away from qualifying for CHAN. For us, we want them to build on what they did in South Africa and win on Saturday,” Kamanga said.