Sunday Nov 14, 2021. 16:00
Chipolopolo Zambia coach Beston Chambeshi has defended his modest record in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B qualifiers describing it as progressive.
Chambeshi was appointed interim coach in late July to oversee Chipolopolo’s Group B qualifiers after FAZ sacked Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic following a forgettable 2021 COSAFA Cup group stage exit.
But Chipolopolo has limped through the Group B qualifiers with two wins, as many defeats and a draw.
The major highlight in Chipolopolo’s Qatar race came on November 13 when they beat Mauritania 4-0 at home in Lusaka to post back-to-back victories over their North African opponents.
“I am not disappointed; I am here to do a job. Yes, when you are aiming high and you have not achieved something then you have failed to do it,” Chambeshi said.
“It is a disappointment but we hold our heads high with my technical team although we did not achieve what we were appointed for.”
Chambeshi also blamed the prevailing forces of nature in the new normal as other factors for Zambia’s poor race.
“Covid-9 played a role. We missed a lot of players because of injuries and this COVID thing but yes we are happy now that the team is now intact and all players are in. There is no excuse, all we now need is to make sure we put everything in place,” Chambeshi said.
Leicester City striker Patson Daka and Brighton midfielder Enock Mwepu faced a challenging time in the initial phase of the Group B qualifiers when they could not travel for Chipolopolo’s home games.
This was to avoid being quarantined upon re-entry into the UK when Zambia was still on the Covid-19 Red Listed nations.
Furthermore, Mwepu has gone on to miss Zambia’s last five Group B qualifiers due to injuries.
Meanwhile, third placed Zambia are back in with a razor-thin mathematical chance of making it to the last ten playoff round next March.
Chipolopolo have 7 points, three points behind leaders Tunisia and second placed Equatorial Guinea who are both tied on 10 points.
Zambia visit Tunisia in their last Group B match on November 16 in Rades that they technically need to win 3-0 to pull off a dramatic upset to advance.