By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
ZAMBIA will this evening aim to extend their unbeaten run at the on-going African Nations Championship (CHAN) when they clash with Namibia in the final Group B match at King Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca.
The two sides are on joint six points, but Zambia lead the group on a superior goal difference. The Chipolopolo have hit the back of the net five times and only allowed one goal while Namibia have two goals out of two matches and boast of the only clean sheet in Group B
Though through to the quarter-finals, the Chipolopolo will tussle for a Group B top finish with their western neighbours who have proved a surprise package at the tournament
On paper, the copper bullets are favourites to carry the day, stirred by the 2-0 gunning down of the highly fancied elephants of Ivory Coast last Thursday.
The Chipolopolo boys, who kicked off the CHAN tournament on a jittery note despite beating Uganda 3-1 in the opening match, have come out a solid and skilful team.
But on the other side Namibia have in the last three years become one of Zambia’s tough rivals. The Brave Warriors beat Ivory Coast 1-0 and dispatched Uganda with the same score line to seal a quarter-final berth at the tournament.
However, coach Wedson Nyirenda insisted that Zambia would take nothing for granted.
“Namibia are a strong side, they have their backs to the wall and have good players in their squad. So we will not take anything to chance and we will put in our best to finish top of Group B,” Nyirenda said.
The Chipolopolo mentor is expected to maintain the previous starting line-up with agile Toaster Nsabata between the sticks and skipper Ziyo Tembo anchoring the backline, which will be marshalled by Adrian Chama, Fackson Kapumbu and Simon Silwimba.
In the midfield, Nyirenda is expected to play Kondwani Mtonga and Donashano Malama to thwart Namibia’s attacks and provide assists to fast paced Ernest Mbewe and Augustine Mulenga who will command the wings.
Sensational Lazarous Kambole and Friday Samu are likely to start upfront while Alex Ng’onga, Martin Phiri and Godfrey Ngwenya line up as super substitutes.
Namibia mentor Ricardo Mannetti said his team is ready for the tough encounter.
“It will not be an easy game as both teams want to maintain an unbeaten streak. Zambia is our strongest opponent so we will be cautious throughout,” Mannetti said. The Chipolopolo will face either Morocco or Sudan in the quarterfinal depending on the outcome of today’s match.
Zambia were part of the inaugural CHAN tournament in 2009 in Ivory Coast, where they finished third; and at the 2016 edition in Rwanda where they bowed out at the quarter-final stage.