ZAMBIA coach Beston Chambeshi says his U-20 team is ready for the final.
And South Africa coach Thabo Senong says hosts Zambia have a chance to lift the trophy because they have been the most consistent team at the tournament.
Zambia reached the final of the Total U-20 Africa Cup after beating spirited ‘Amajita’ 1-0 in extra time.
Having been beaten twice coming into the tournament, South Africa refused to easily fall to the same opponent three times in two months and produced a solid defensive performance at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
The match was deadlocked at nil-nil after 90 minutes and in extra time, Edward Chilufya rose the highest to head in Prosper Chiluya’s crisp cross to send the packed Heroes agog.
Speaking in his post-match comments, Chambeshi said Zambian football was back to normal.
He said he told the players not to allow the game to go to penalties.
“When it comes to qualifying the team at the World Cup, I look back 29 years ago; I was there as a player playing in the Olympics, now I am taking a team to the World Cup. I am happy that we are taking the team to the finals. It is about the nation. I am happy with the support; Zambians have come in numbers. It shows that football is back to the normal level, which is good for the country. We are just one step away, we are in the final. We have to prepare very well so that we finish on a good note,” Chambeshi said.
“I did not expect that we will meet South Africa…we are ready for any team in the final. It was not an easy game. Both teams played very well but South Africa was on the defensive. South Africa has improved a lot especially in the defence.”
And Senong said: “Zambia has been a very good team, they have been very consistent since COSAFA. They prepared very well, and their preparation has been tops. They always had their players in camp. I believe that they are the favourites. I even said when we came here in Lusaka that we want to prepare with the favourites which are Zambia and we qualified to the World Cup because of preparing with this kind of opposition. I think they are the favourites to win the tournament but of course, it is going to be very tough but I trust their technical team, the coach is a very good…We wish them well in the final and I believe they have a chance to win.”
Qualification to the final guarantees Zambia a US$175 000 which is set for the runners-up or US$250 000 if they lift the trophy this Sunday.