Friday Jul 09, 2021. 16:00
Chipolopolo Zambia are back in action this Saturday against Eswatini at the 2021 COSAFA Cup just 48 hours after a bruising start to their title defence.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s COSAFA Cup debut didn’t go according to plan on July 8 when he witnessed his side squander a one-nil halftime lead to lose 2-1 to Lesotho at Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay where South Africa is hosting the tournament from July 6-18.
That loss saw Chipoloplo slump to the bottom of Group A on zero points with Botswana who have also played just one game while Lesotho are third on 3 points from two games.
Opponents Eswatini are second on 3 points behind hosts Bafana Bafana South Africa who beat the former 1-0 on Thursday to go top of Group A on maximum 6 points.
With that scenario in mind, Chipolopolo know they must win Saturday’s game to put them back on track to mathematically ensure they stay in the race for what is now projected to be a battle for a runners-up spot in Group A.
“We need to regroup to put this game behind us and to look forward to the next match against Eswtaini because our intention is to qualify to the semifinals,” Micho said.
“We need to pick up the pieces from this game, learn the lessons and go back to the drawing board, and on Saturday, bounce back.”
Meanwhile, Micho had enough time on Thursday after Zambia’s defeat to observe Eswatini for the second time in this competition who will be without their talisman and striker Felix Badenhorst.
Badenhorst is suspended for Saturday’s match after getting his second booking of the day in that defeat to Bafana Bafana.
But Micho also enjoyed the same luxury of a head start against Lesotho after watching them go down 3-1 to Eswatini on July 6.
The pressure is mounting on the Serb back home after the Lesotho loss for him to come up with a more convincing display and the 3 points considering the fact that he has the strongest assembled Zambian COSAFA Cup side since 2007.