Football

Zambia seek head-start

Wedson (left) and Baxter.

ROBINSON KUNDA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA will today target a comfortable lead over an understrength South Africa in the 2018 Kenya African Nations Championship (CHAN) second round first leg

at Buffaloes Stadium in East London.
Several top South African sides have withdrawn their players from the national team to concentrate on preparing for the 2017-18 season kicking off next weekend.
The teams last met on June 13 in Rustenburg in an international friendly and Zambia won 2-1 courtesy of Lubinda Mundia and Brian Mwila’s goals.
Mundia is in the team while Mwila has trekked to South Africa to join Platinum Stars.
Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda has to dig deeper because the Chipolopolo have not beaten South Africa in CHAN matches.
Zambia, under the tutelage of George Lwandamina, lost 1-0 away and drew 1-1 in Lusaka for South Africa to proceed to the 2011Sudan CHAN finals 2-1 on aggregate.
But Nyirenda said he is focusing on the future.
“There is always the first time. Mozambique had never beaten us but they beat us at our home ground. Even we are going to South Africa with the positive mind. We want to get a good result,” Nyirenda said referring to Mozambique’s 1-0 win over Zambia in the 2019 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on June 10 in Ndola.
Nyirenda will look to Justin Shonga and Martin Phiri for goals.
With a good supply, Shonga could punish the South Africans.
In case Shonga or Phiri fail to tick, Mundia could be unleashed.
Jackson Chirwa will operate in front of the defence with John Ching’andu functioning behind the two strikers while Ernest Mbewe and Augustine Mulenga will be on the right and left wings, respectively.
At the back, Donashano Malama, Fackson Kapumbu, skipper Ziyo Tembo and Isaac Shamujompa will give cover to goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata.
South Africa could feature an understrength side as the technical bench have been facing difficulties in putting together a team they desire because of players’ club commitments.
Coach Stuart Baxter told the SABC that he has had to improvise in making the team as clubs are preparing for the start of the season this weekend and they require their players.
“We have had people [players] coming to camp and leaving. Some come for one game and leave,” Baxter said.
He said he was not criticising clubs for holding on to their players as he understands their need to prepare adequately for the season.
Baxter said this has been his most difficult tournament to prepare for but “the boys have worked their socks off, so they are going to give whatever they can”.
South Africa skipper Mario Booysen is confident the inexperienced side has what it takes to beat Zambia.
“The fact is that we all have a responsibility to do our duty and perform for the national team because when all is said and done, you really look forward to this moment in your career of representing your country.
“We don’t see any negatives but only positivity, so we have to get a good result,” Booysen told the South African Football Association website.
Baxter will rely on goalkeeper Keagan Pool, Tshepo Maboa, Mpho Rasilingwane and Jabulani Shongwe.
Others who could shock Zambia are Bonginkosi Ntuli and Ryan Moon.
To get to the last round, South Africa beat Botswana 3-0 on aggregate while Zambia butchered Swaziland 7-0 over two legs.

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