ZAMBIA U-23 this evening face Ivory Coast in a must-win match without star-striker Fashion Sakala whose journey in the tournament has come to a premature end owing to injury.

Beston Chambeshi’s side needs an outright victory after managing only a point from the first two matches after a draw in the opening game and a 3-1 loss to Nigeria in the second game last Tuesday in which Sakala sustained a knee injury that has ruled him out of the tournament.

Despite his absence, Sakala believes Zambia’s chances of making it to the semi-finals are just as equal as other teams in the group.

South Africa top the group with four points, Nigeria in second has three points while Ivory Coast are third with three points. Zambia is at the tail-end of the group with just a point.

Zambia needs to win and hoping that South Africa beats Nigeria to qualify, or Zambia may still qualify if there is a draw in the other game depending on the score line.

Any results other than a win will end Zambia’s Olympic dream.

“I am wishing the team all the best, I know this is a good team with quality players. I know they can do it together,” Sakala said. “I believe that the team is ready to fight back, they will fight for the country. There is 95 per cent of us qualifying to the semi-finals.”

On his injury, Sakala, the KV Oostende striker said: “I was not expecting this, but this is life. Sometimes God’s plans is not our plan. I came with very good confidence that maybe I will help the team qualify to the next round but I did not make it.”

“I hope and pray to God that the team qualifies to the next round. I did not expect what happened, you know how it was for me and Patson [Daka],” he said.

Sakala and Daka collided in the second minute of the loss to Nigeria leaving the latter playing the rest of the match with a headband.

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