Sport

U-17 skipper eyes African title

By STEPHEN PHIRI and ROBINSON KUNDA
SKIPPER Patson Daka says the under-17 national team has the ability to win the Africa Junior Championship.
Daka said in an interview from Kampala yesterday that the under-17 players believe in themselves.
Daka scored three goals in the 4-1 aggregate win over Uganda.
He scored one in the 2-0 first leg win in Lusaka on September 12 and got a brace in the 2-1 victory in Kampala on Saturday.
“It feels great to qualify for the Africa Junior Championship finals. Everyone here [in camp] is very happy because we have made history. We have achieved our dream,” Daka said.
The under-17 national team will make its maiden appearance at the tournament in Niger next February.
Daka dedicated the three goals to his late father Naphtale Daka.
The Nchanga Rangers striker thanked his teammates for giving him an opportunity to score.
“We work as a team and without the support of my teammates, I cannot score. We do not fear any team and we are waiting for the draws,” Daka said.
And under-17 national team coach Chris Kaunda says the team will embark on vigorous preparations ahead of the Niger finals.
Kaunda said from Kampala on Saturday that there is need to prepare the boys adequately.
He praised his boys for putting up a spirited performance and qualifying for the Africa Junior Championship.
Kaunda said playing away is not easy for any team.
He said the team travelled to Kampala with the purpose of winning.
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya said Zambian football is on the right track following the under-17 national team’s qualification for the Africa Junior Championship finals.
Kalusha said in an interview from Johannesburg yesterday that it is the first time in the history of Zambian football that almost all age group teams, both women and men, have qualified for competitive tournaments.
The under-17 women’s national team qualified for the 2014 Costa Rica World Cup, the national senior women’s team has progressed to next month’s Africa Championship in Namibia and the under-20 men’s national team has made it for the 2015 Senegal Africa Youth Championship.
Kalusha said the recent developments in youth football are indications that Zambia has massive talent that needs to be developed.
“We had the under-17 national team that qualified for the World Cup for the first time. We have the senior women national team who have qualified for the African Championship and now the under-17 boys team. This shows we are on a right track,” he said.
Kalusha said there is need to nurture young players so that they could reach their peak and play for the senior national teams.

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