Chipolopolo face Panthers


ZAMBIA today start their preparations for the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a potentially explosive friendly encounter against Gabon at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Buoyed by last Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Kenya in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifier at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, the Chipolopolo will seek to maintain their dominance over Gabon.
But it won’t be easy as the West Africans are also motivated by last Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Sudan in Khartoum.
Both teams are using the match to prepare for the 2018 Russia World Cup second- round qualifiers.
But there is no love lost between the two sides as they clash in the international friendly, which certainly evokes memories of 1995 when Kalusha Bwalya scored a late winner to help Zambia qualify for the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Zambia are away to Sudan in November.
Since 1989, Zambia and Gabon have met six times with the former winning four times and the West Africans having triumphed twice.
The last meeting between the two sides was at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, where the Chipolopolo narrowly edged Gabon 2-1 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the continent’s football showpiece.
China-based strikers Jacob Mulenga and James Chamanga, who are both missing from this evening’s encounter, scored for the 2012 African champions.
In-form striker Collins Mbesuma might partner Winston Kalengo up-front while skipper Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala, Chisamba Lungu and Jack Chirwa will dictate play in midfield.
Mbesuma and Kalengo contributed a goal apiece in the 2-1 win over Kenya.
Kalaba, despite not getting on the scoresheet, had a cracking game at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi and will be looking forward to replicating the same form.
Boyd Mkandawire, Benedict Chepeshi, Aaron Katebe and Stopilla Sunzu will be in defence while Kennedy Mweene will start in goal ahead of Jacob Banda and Danny Munyao.
Gabon coach Jorge Costa will look to Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Samson Mbingui and Malick Evouna, who scored a brace against Sudan.
The match kicks off at 18:00 hours.

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