CHIPOLOPOLO captain Kennedy Mweene says the team is taking tomorrow’s dead-rubber World Cup tie against Cameroon seriously because beating the African champions will inject positive energy in the team ahead of the CHAN and AfCON qualifiers. And Mweene says Zambia has exciting young talent that will excel in the next levels of qualifiers to begin after the African Nations Championships to be held in Morocco.
Both Zambia and Cameroon are out of the race to qualify to the 2018 World Cup with Nigeria having secured top spot in Group B going into this weekend’s fixtures.
The match is billed for Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on Saturday and is seen as the beginning of preparations for the CHAN tournament by coach Wedson Nyirenda.
Coach Nyirenda has called majority of the CHAN players for the fixture with the infusion of Mweene and Stophila Sunzu as the only senior professionals and the five graduates from the victorious Under-20 team and two South Africa-based professionals.
In an interview at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola yesterday, Mweene said high profile games such as the one against Cameroun were an opportunity for the local players to show that they can stand pressure ahead of their CHAN camping next month.
“…what is important is to look forward to this game on Saturday bearing in mind that it may not be important but as a player it is important to finish on a good note. It will be encouraging and it will bring a positive energy as well considering the team is composed of young players who were playing in their first qualifiers and will be motivated to work extra hard,” Mweene said.
“Games like these give an opportunity for the local guys. Even if they don’t participate on Saturday it gives them a chance to show what they can do before they camp in December. Any team you play we take it seriously. We won’t put the pressure on the young ones. We know we are the senior players; if the young ones make a mistake we carry the burden because this is our time to carry that burden. We will let them play freely and do what they do at their clubs but following instructions of the coach and respecting the organisation of the team.”
He urged fans to go and cheer the team in respect to the Zambian flag on Saturday.
“There are a lot of good youngsters in Zambia and I think going to CHAN and the AFCON qualifiers against Namibia away…we didn’t come to the party in that particular game and we are disappointed and rectify everything. We have to carry on and improve, we have Namibia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. We are on zero points but anything is possible. I have no doubt that with the team that we have, we will qualify for AFCON 2019. It will be encouraging not only for younger ones but for us seniors, it’s a show of respect for our flag and nation,” said Mweene.