ZAMBIA’S moment of reckoning dawns this afternoon with a titanic clash against Germany in pursuit of a maiden quarter-final spot in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Coach Beston Chambeshi’s memories of a previous meeting with Germany are still very fresh.
Chambeshi was in the Zambia side that was routed 4-0 by a Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired Germany in the quarter-finals of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Zambia had famously caused one of football’s biggest upsets in that tournament, beating giants Italy 4-0 and recording the same score line against Guatemala.
But times have changed and Chambeshi’s team has shown great belief and determination judging by the group games from where they qualified as group winners.
Yes, they are big names but football is played on the pitch. We are prepared to face anyone. And the boys are ready, we will meet them on the pitch,
Germany coach Guido Streichsbier believes this is anyone’s game.
I think in a play-off game, it’s always 50-50. It doesn’t matter if the first three games were okay. Maybe Zambia has a better feeling because they won two games but after 90 minutes, one team stays in the tournament, the other has to go,
The Europeans finished on four points in Group B after registering a win over Vanuatu, a goalless draw with Mexico and a 2-0 defeat to Venezuela.
But Streichsbier said this should not be used against his players as they seek to progress to the next stage of the competition.
He singled out forwards Fashion Sakala and Patson Daka and midfielder Enock Mwepu as the players to watch when the two teams meet today.
Streichsbier also acknowledged that not many people in Germany expect his team to return home with the trophy.
Nobody in Germany thinks we can win the World Cup, but we must do everything possible to stay as long as we can in the tournament,
However, Chambeshi must work on the defensive indiscipline which has seen his team concede three penalties so far to avoid conceding avoidable goals, more so that Germany has quick attacking players.
Captain Solomon Sakala and right back Shemmy Mayembe especially have been culprits of some defensive frailties in the team thus far.
Chambeshi may also be compelled to start Emmanuel Banda alongside Boyd Musonda and push Enock Mwepu to back Fashion Sakala and Patson Daka in attack looking at the way this combination destroyed Iran in the 4-2 come-from-behind victory in the second group game.
Prosper Chiluya should start on the right back with Moses Nyondo expected to partner with Sakala in central defence.
Edward Chilufya may join the attack on the right flanks depending on Chambeshi’s game plan.