VICTOR KUMWENDA, Lusaka
A YEAR after being disqualified from the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Under-17 Championship due
to age cheating, Zambia today return to the regional competition and start the campaign against Madagascar in Port Louis.
Defender Benjamin Phiri and striker Nicholas Mulilo failed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests following a complaint by Kenya, who lost 3-0 to the young Chipolopolo in a group stage match.
Phiri and Mulilo, former under-17 coach Osward Mutapa and ex-team manager Collins Phiri were also banned.
Zambia reached the semi-finals after topping Group B without conceding.
All the 20 players underwent MRI tests last weekend in Lusaka and were certified below 17 years. Only three players failed the tests and were dropped.
The young Chipolopolo are favourites to overcome the Islanders in a Group B match at St Francois Xavier Stadium in Port Louis.
The Mumamba Numba-mentored side must emulate the under-20 national team’s success of being crowned COSAFA and 2017 African champions.
Zambia also reached the quarter-finals at the 2017 FIFA South Korea World Cup.
Numba is confident the team will conquer in Mauritius.
“We have picked a formidable team. Our target is to win the tournament. At least all the players look promising. We are hoping for the best and I believe they can do it,” Numba said.
The young Chipolopolo will look to Jonathan Kapelembe, Dennis Phiri, Enock Musonda and Michael Kafusha to start the campaign on a roaring note.
Last year’s runners-up South Africa will battle Mozambique in an early kick-off at the same venue.