Thursday Sep 02, 2021. 16:00
Chipolopolo Zambia on Friday attempt to end Mauritania’s five-year unbeaten home record when they clash in the two sides’ opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B qualifier in Nouakchott.
Mauritania last tasted a home loss in June, 2016 when Cameroon beat them 1-0 in a 2017 AFCON Group M qualifier.
But Chipolopolo are on a desperate mission for redemption after last March’s failure to qualify for the AFCON for a third successive time.
“Fans always want a win and the only gift we can give them is a win. We know we have disappointed them in so many games in the past, we have not qualified to the AFCON and they want that,” Chipolopolo and Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu said.
With that in mind, Zambia now seek solace in the only competition they have yet to qualify for; the FIFA World Cup.
“It has been my dream to try to qualify for the World Cup and to take Zambia to the World Cup. This is the opportunity now; we are just starting to try to re-organize and see what we can achieve together as we play Mauritania in the first game,” Mwepu added.
However, Chipolopolo have not won an opening FIFA World Cup or AFCON qualifying fixture since 2015 when they beat Sudan away 1-0 in a Russia 2018 qualifier.
To try and achieve that ambitious objective, Chipolopolo coach Beston Chambeshi is placing his hopes in Mwepu and Leicester City striker Patson Daka to inspire them in Nouakchott.
The pressure is also on Patson and Mwepu to deliver, especially that they are unlikely to be available for the match-day-two home fixture against Tunisia on September 7 in Ndola due to Covid-19 travel restrictions to countries on the UK’s Red List on which Zambia appears.
Mauritania is on the more subtle Amber List.
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo must ensure that they leave Nouakchott with the minimum of a draw as five-time FIFA World Cup finalists Tunisia and Group B favourites come to town this Tuesday.