ZAMBIA and Senegal clash this evening in what is expected to be a battle of the titans at the National Heroes Stadium with each team’s eyes on the top prize of the CAF U-20 AfCON trophy.
The young Teranga Lions from West Africa will be hoping to make up for their failure two years ago on home soil when they lost to eventual winners Nigeria.
Zambia on the other hand have never reached the final of this competition, only managing the semi-finals on two occasions in 1999 under Patrick Phiri and in 2007 under George Lwandamina.
Besides, the two nations have never met in the competition, making this final meeting historic, especially that both teams boast of flawless progression to this stage.
Zambia has never lost a game enroute to the final, recording a 100 percent winning record while Senegal’s only disappointment on the way to the final was a 1-all draw in the opening match against group B minnows Sudan in Ndola.
Senegal coach Joseph Koto is refusing to bring the loss his team suffered as hosts into the picture, insisting that his lads were clearly focused on today’s battle.
“We are thankful that we are in the final and they will be aware of what happened two years ago and we hope that they will enjoy,” said Koto after beating Guinea in the semi-finals.
Zambia coach Beston ‘Quicksilver’ Chambeshi is reminding his boys what an important national duty is before them, saying it would be important to finish the competition on a good note.
“It is about the nation. 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.
He added it was important to expect to meet any team in the final and prepare for that.
Chambeshi’s defence must be weary of Senegal’s attacking duo of Ousseynou Diane and Alliou Badji whose combination midfielder Jacques Ndecky has proved too much for opponents throughout the tournament.
However, Senegal must come up with the highest scoring frontline in the tournament and the Senegalese defence must be its best to halt the darting runs of Fashion Sakala, Patson Daka and Emmanuel Banda.
Enock Mwepu and Edward Chilufya joining in from the midfield roles add to Zambia’s attacking prowess.
Whatever the case, all the peripheral issues that have dominantly been part of the social pre-match talk like “Senegalese use of voodoo in the semi-final match against Guinea” and the infamous police teargassing of the Zambia-South Africa semis will be history once the referee blows the first whistle.