Thursday Aug 05, 2021. 08:57
New Zambia coach Beston Chambeshi says failure is not a word in his vocabulary heading into next month’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B qualifiers against Mauritania and Tunisia.
Chambeshi is in interim charge of Chipolopolo for three months to oversee Zambia’s grueling six Group B qualifying fixtures against Mauritania, Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea that have been staggered well into November.
“For sure it is not an easy group and that is why we want to plan very well for it,” Chambeshi said.
“We want to take each game with a serious approach and we will work hard so that we start on a serious note.
“Failure is not an option; we will try and work hard so that we see to it that we give the Zambian people something to smile about.”
Chipolopolo kicks-off its Qatar Group B campaign on September 1 with a first-ever trip to Nouakchott to face Mauritania.
Zambia then return home four days to host Tunisia in Ndola.
Chipolopolo later resumes its Group B qualifiers with a doubleheader against Equatorial Guinea in what will be another first-ever meeting in a qualifier encounter on October 6 in Bata and at home in Lusaka on October 10.
Mauritania will also make their debut visit to Lusaka on November 11 and four days later, Zambia will close its Group B assignments away in Sfax against Tunisia.
The group winner will advance to the final, two-way knockout stage where Africa’s five representatives to Qatar will be decided.
“All I can say is pressure is always there,” Chambeshi said.
“We cannot run away from that but we are looking forward to working hard and to see that something good comes out of this.”
Meanwhile, Chambeshi has named a 30-man provisional squad for next month’s matches. He will name his foreign-based selections later this month.
The team goes into camp this Thursday, August 5, with the interim coach making some interesting call-ups, with the highlight being the return of Nkana’s fiery striker Alex Ngonga.
Ngonga is back in the Chipolopolo fold for the first time since 2018 when he was a regular under the reign of Wedson Nyirenda.
The experienced striker has just come off memorable season at Nkana where his eight goals helped save the record 13-time Zambian champions from relegation.
Ngonga joined Nkana in the last three months of the 2020/2021 season as a free agent after failing out of favour at Power Dynamos, where he scored just one goal during the rule of Perry Mutapa.
Chambeshi has also named three Zambia Under-17 players in his team, led by Joseph Banda plus his Athletico Lusaka club mates Francis Mutalange and midfielder Julius Kumwenda.
He has also summoned Napsa Stars’ 19-year-old striker Jimmy Mukeya, who also had a very impressive season scoring 10 goals despite his team’s relegation from the FAZ Super League.
Mukeya was surprisingly listed as a standby player during the 2021 COSAFA Cup, despite his notable domestic form, by Chambeshi’s predecessor Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.
Chambeshi has, in addition, named three players from the team he led 2017 AFCON U20 glory as hosts. They are Nkana midfielder Harrison Chisala, Zesco United defender Solomon Sakala and Boyd Musonda of Zanaco.
Zambia provisional squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Kelvin Malunga (Nkana), Gregory Sanjase (Young Green Eagles), Lameck Siame (Kabwe Warriors)
DEFENDERS: Benedict Chepeshi, Prosper Chiluya (both Red Arrows), Simon Silwimba , Solomon Sakala (Both Zesco United), Luka Banda (Napsa Stars), Dominic Chanda, Field Kandela (both Kabwe Warriors), Kebson Kamanga (Zanaco), Isaac Shamujompa (Buildcon)
MIDFIELDERS: Ngosa Sunzu (Buildcon), Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba , Dickson Chapa, Chanda Mukuka (all Zesco United), Prince Mumba (Kabwe Warriors), Boyd Musonda (Zanaco), Patrick Gondwe (Nkana), Felix Bulaya (Red Arrows), Miguel Chaiwa (Samuel Academy), Roderick Kabwe (unattached), Spencer Sautu(Power Dynamos) , Harrison Chisala (Nkana), Julius Kumwenda (Athletico Lusaka)
FORWARDS: Brian Mwila (Buildcon), Alex Ngonga (Nkana), Joseph Sabobo Banda, Francis Mutalange (both Athletico Lusaka), Jimmy Mukeya (Napsa Stars)