Wednesday Sep 08, 2021. 14:00
Beston Chambeshi has defended Chipolopolo’s poor performance and insists he picked the best starting XI in Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B qualifier 2-0 home loss to Tunisia at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Key playmakers Clatous Chama of RS Berkane in Morocco and Zesco United midfielder Kelvin Mubanga were on the bench in the opening hour of the match that Chipolopolo chased Tunisia and trailed one-nil following a 7th minute Wahbi Khazri penalty.
Chama and Mubanga efficiently came on in the 58th minute for Lubambo Musonda and Edward Chilfuya respectively who had stuttered through the match before going off.
From then on, Chipolopolo put Tunisia on the back-foot well into the 84th minute until the visitors sealed the victory two minutes in stoppage time through Anis Ben Slimane.
The duo came close to equalizing for Zambia in the 68th minute when Mubanga’s cross found Chama but his sublime header was superbly parried off the line by Tunisia goalkeeper Ben Mustapha.
“For sure it is the best side that we picked. It was the best eleven which started and we had the confidence in that team. That was our game plan, it was just fine for the starting line-up. That was the best we could do as the technical staff,” Chambeshi said.
Chambeshi particularly defended his decision to bench Chama who arrived 48 hours before the game from Morocco after he failed to get a visa for the Mauritania game on September 3 that Chipolopolo won 2-1 away in Nouakchott.
Chama was a straight replacement for Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu who had returned to his England base after the Mauritania match to avoid undergoing mandatory 10-day quarantine for Covid-19 Red Listed Zambian arrivals into the UK.
“If you look at Clatous, he had just arrived on Sunday after travelling a long distance so we looked at his fitness,” Chambeshi said in his defence.
“He came in very strong but we had to take a risk by starting him later. We did not want to lose one of our key players and had to reserve him for later.
“That is why we gave him 35 minutes to play. It was our game plan that we had to reserve the young man.”