Football Sport

Self-belief vital for World Cup qualification

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
NOBODY imagined Iceland would knock England out of the 2016 Euro. It happened and Iceland, with a population of 330,000, won 2-1 to set a quarter-final date against hosts France.
Determination was key for Iceland’s triumph and Zambian players should embrace self-belief ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying race.
Zambia has been drawn in Group B with Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria in the race for the World Cup finals.
Cameroon have qualified for the World Cup a record seven times, Nigeria five and Algeria four times.
The Chipolopolo are yet to qualify for the showpiece.
All the three teams represented Africa at the 2014 Brazil World Cup finals and Nigeria were the biggest achievers reaching the last round of 16.
Group B is tough and this calls for adequate planning by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and national team technical bench.
I am reliably informed that FAZ are in search of a foreign coach to take charge of the Chipolopolo.
Friendly matches with quality opposition should be top of the agenda.
Zambia need to face West African teams in view of the World Cup qualifier against Nigeria on October 1 and the November 7 clash against Cameroon in Yaounde.
With proper planning, Zambia could go all the way and cause an upset in Group B.
Upsets are part of football and Zambia are capable of doing that.
The Chipolopolo defied all odds to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 in Libreville, Gabon.
I know it will not be easy against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, but we need to beat the best to qualify for the World Cup.
Winning all the home matches and collecting a win or draw on the road could take Zambia to the global event.
In qualifying for the 2006 Germany World Cup finals, Togo finished first ahead of favourites Senegal and Zambia and in the same year, Angola finished ahead of Nigeria to make history.
Zambia can do the same in Group B with planning.
The national team technical bench should cast the net wide and summon players that will make a difference.
Selection of players should be based on current form and not past performance. We need only the best cream to don national colours.
I liked national team skipper Rainford Kalaba and striker Collins Mbesuma’s reactions after the draws were conducted.
Kalaba and Mbesuma declared that Zambia can compete with the best teams on the continent.
Zambia has ammunition and all what is needed is to assemble a team that will gun down opponents.
If other teams have been to the World Cup seven times, we can also do it.
The nation should pull in the same direction as we strategise for the World Cup qualification.
I am wishing Zesco United success in tonight’s CAF Champions League Group A match against Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca.
phiristeve4@gmail.com, sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm

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