MULWANDA LUPIYA, Ndola
STRIKER Just in Shonga has promised to shake the net in tomorrow’s second round return leg against South Africa and guide the Chipolopolo to next year’s African
Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Kenya.
And South Africa acting coach Thabo Senong is upbeat his depleted team will rise to the challenge and advance to the CHAN finals.
Shonga said in an interview in Ndola yesterday that the players are ready to make the country proud.
“The team is very much ready and we are pushing in training. We are ready for the game on Saturday. Fans should just be ready to celebrate. It will be victory on Saturday and I will push hard to score. I am going to score and I will make sure that I make the fans happy, at least I should hit the net so that we qualify,” he said.
Shonga is anticipating a tough encounter following last Saturday’s 2-2 draw in East London.
A goalless draw will see Zambia progressing to the CHAN finals.
Shonga said the Chipolopolo have an advantage having scored two away goals.
He said the players are eager to give coach Wedson Nyirenda his first win at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium.
Meanwhile, Senong said in an interview at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola yesterday that Bafana Bafana are looking forward to a positive outing.
Several key players have been withdrawn from the national team ahead of the South African Premier Soccer League kicking off this weekend.
“We are preparing for a very tough match on Saturday and we are looking forward to a good match .We are fully aware that we have a tough one against Zambia. It will not be easy for us and it will not be easy for Zambia, so we are looking forward to the encounter on Saturday.
“Obviously these [withdrawal of players] are the demands of national team coaching. I think we have been experiencing these kind of challenges for the past five years but we are used to it and thankfully we have brought in players that are also used to these challenges.
“We have brought some quality talented young boys that have gelled quickly in time just to make sure that we build an 11-man squad that can compete on Saturday,” said Senong, who is standing in for coach Stuart Baxter, who remained in South Africa preparing for the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde.
Senong said the South Africans are not under pressure to win and are using the match to give young players exposure.
“Zambia has done well to score two away goals. That was a little bit of disturbance for us but Zambia will probably be looking for a draw. Maybe they will be defensive-minded or they might think we are playing home and let us attack the South Africans. I still believe it’s going to be a nice tough encounter and we have not given up. We still have hope that our team can score goals,” Senong said.
And Zambia Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo has urged fans to troop to Ndola in numbers and cheer the Chipolopolo.