ZAMBIA U-23 national team coach Beston Chambeshi has hailed his team’s fighting spirit after they qualified to Africa Cup with a nail biting 3-3 draw in Congo Brazaville.
But Chambeshi says Zambia will have to prepare very well for Egypt tournament.
Zambia won via a 5-4 on aggregate having beaten the Congolese 2-1 in the reverse fixture in Lusaka last Wednesday.
Striker Fashion Sakala scored the opening goal while midfielder Enock Mwepu scored a brace that helped Zambia become the first country to book a ticket to the Egypt finals slated for November.
Speaking after the match, Chambeshi hailed the boys’ never say die spirit.
He disputed the penalty awarded to the hosts for their third goal.
“I am happy with the fighting spirit for the boys. It was not a genuine penalty but we had to accept and I had to tell the boys to put away that penalty and focus and they had to accept. They started play and put up a good fight,” Chambeshi said.
He said even when his team was trailing, he always believed the boys would turn the game around.
“I had faith and confidence in the team, I know this is a working team. We had to push them, they came strong and had to push themselves. Our aim was to qualify by all means. Our boys had to listen to advice and fought to the last minute. We have to look at the team we played, it was not an easy game. At one time I thought it was the senior team but I said let us believe in ourselves. We conceded goals, but we played a good team, they had to put us under pressure. We had to make sure we built our defence and remained strong to stand enough pressure.”
He singled out Mwepu’s heroics after the Redbull Salzburg player took things personal to end the Congolese dream of a comeback victory.
“I think Mwepu came in strong and he had to take the game in his own way which is good for the team. If you have a player like that then you can have faith in team. The team played very well, and that environment we were in, but as I said to the Zambian people that we will give you a smile at the end of the day we have done it,” said Chambeshi.
“Football is about making history. You cannot run away from that. As a coach and players we have to look at that, you have to look at the legacy. I am happy with the boys that they have taken me to another level but also I have built them to believe in themselves. We are an early team. We will sit with the exco at FAZ and see how we can plan. We have to prepare very well. I wish we can have a training programme away from home. I will try to sell my programme to the executive.”
The eight-team Egypt tournament acts as an Olympics qualifier from which the top three teams will make it to Tokyo 2020 Olympics.