African Champions Intensify Preps

Seven days and counting before the Chipolopolo Boys face Sudan in the 2014 Brazil World Cup qualifiers, Coach Herve Renard this weekend will have the greater component of the assemblage of his champion stars in camp as he intensifies preparations for the match in Khartoum.

High on his waiting list is the all-conquering team captain Christopher Katongo, playmaker Emmanuel Mayuka and James Chamanga who are expected in later to complete the Frenchman’s call up.

Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Communications Officer Erick Mwanza said preparations were progressing well and all players in camp were responding positively to the coaches’ instructions.

“All is well at Milpark Garden Court in Johannesburg. The players are looking forward to the game and by tommorrow, the coach should have all the players he has called up in camp,” he said.

After Given Sunguluma of TP Mazembe was excused for being ill and Netherland based Jacob Mulenga admitted that he was not fit enough to report to camp, Renard now has his eyes focussed on identifying his 18 man-strong team to travel to Sudan for the crucial encounter.

Except for Katongo, Chamanga and Mayuka, Renard’s jigsaw puzzle pieces are all falling into place without problems and the race for a place in the final 18 man team should bring out the best in Zambian football once again.

Defender Joseph Musonda who was ruled out due to injury is back in contetion for a place together with Emmanuel Mbola who has joined FC Porto.

“It will be another star-studded side that will travel to Sudan. It will be a morale booster to get three points off Sudan and the Coaches and players know this too well. They are working towards achieving victories in the games against Sudan and later Ghana,” Mwanza said.

Zambia faces Sudan next weekend in Khartoum while the other teams in group D of the qualifying series, Ghana and Lesotho will be squaring it out in Kumasi on June 1. The reverse fixtures where Zambia hosts Ghana at Levy Stadium will be played on June 9.

Jacob Mulenga To Miss Ghana Game Despite Return To Action

Jacob Mulenga says he is in no rush to return to national team duty after making a successful comeback to action on Tuesday following his recent recovery from a long-term injury.

Mulenga, who has been out of action since last November due to a knee injury in a Dutch league game against Ajax, played on Tuesday in a training game against Ste.De.Co that his club FC Utrecht won 6-1.

“My knee feels normal again, but I feel that I have not reached one hundred percent,” Mulenga told Utrecht’s official website.

“This gives me a huge relief. I’m glad I’ve played again. I was called by my national team, but it is not the right thing to do now. The move to play international matches is too big.”

“I’ve now played for the first and I need more time to get back on higher of level play. These friendly matches will help me get that,” he said.

Mulenga is on standby but not on the official 26-man provisional list for Zambia’s 2014 World Cup Group D qualifiers against Sudan and Ghana on June 2 and 9 in Khartoum and Ndola respectively.