Thursday Oct 07, 2021. 12:36
Chipolopolo Zambia battle to revive their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 hopes on Thursday when they visit Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on match-day-three of their Group B qualifiers.
Zambia return to Group B action after losing 2-0 at home on September 7 in Ndola to leaders Tunisia just days after making a promising start with a 2-1 away victory over bottom placed and winless Mauritania on September 3 in Nouakchott.
Chipolopolo head into the match at number two with 3 points in Group B, tied with third positioned Equatorial Guinea who have an inferior goal difference.
Tunisia, who host bottom placed Mauritania on Thursday in the first leg of the other October doubleheader, lead Group B on maximum 6 points from two rounds played.
But Zambia head into the match with some personnel conundrums for Chipolopolo coach Beston Chambeshi.
Midfielder and captain Enoch Mwepu of Brighton in England will miss the Group B doubleheader due to a groin injury.
Striker Evans Kangwa of Arsenal Tula is in camp but arrived from his Russian club with a hamstring problem.
“If you look at Mwepu and Evans Kangwa, these are players who have been with us for a long time and they are important to our team but there is nothing we can do. It has happened and all that we need to do now is to look for replacements in the team,” Chambeshi said,
But Chambeshi is optimistic Kangwa would heal in time for Sunday’s game.
However, Chambeshi’s tactical headaches don’t end there.
Chambeshi must now ensure Chipolopolo win in Malabo in the only match two of his remaining influential strikers Patson Daka of Leicester City and Fashion Sakala of Glasgow Rangers will feature in.
Patson and Fashion will return to the UK after immediately after the game because they are reportedly not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and would require ten-day quarantine should they go to still Red-Listed Zambia for Sunday’s final leg at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
“We have talked to the players, there is no pressure playing away from home. All we need is just to go and express ourselves and enjoy the game,” Chambeshi said.
“They have to play like they are at home because nowadays there is no home ground advantage; it is the way you plan. I believe that the boys will come out and show their character.”