A confident 23-member Zambia national soccer team yesterday left for Nairobi for tomorrow’s Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Kenya.
The Chipolopolo left Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) aboard a Kenya Airways commercial plane in morning.
Sports Deputy Minister Ronald Chitotela re-emphasised to the team that they had a huge task ahead to beat Kenya at all cost.
Chitotela said beating Kenya was not an easy task but that government believed the squad assembled can do it.
“President Edgar Lungu challenged you to beat Kenya and relieve the nation of an embarrassment. Every Zambian is expecting a win and nothing else. Put your heart into the game to make the nation proud,” he said.
He called on the players to play as a team if they were to record a positive result.
“Playing as an individual player will not bring positive results to the nation. Each player’s contribution is vital in seeing the team’s success in Sunday’s match,” Chitotela said.
Interim coach George Lwandamina said he was optimistic that the squad assembled would register a win on Kenyan soil.
“I have confidence in the team that it will get a win in Nairobi. The boys are adequately prepared and now the onus is on them to deliver on the pitch. They are not under-pressure,” he said.
Meanwhile, Multichoice Zambia representative Marlon Kananda said the Kenya qualifier will be televised live on SuperSport.
“Zambia’s game against Kenya will be televised live on Supersport. We want to give many Zambians who cannot travel to Nairobi to have a feel of the game in the comfort of their homes,” he said.
The Chipolopolo Boys need an outright win in tomorrow’s group E second match to keep the hope of qualifying to the Gabon finals alive.
Zambia is tied on one point with Kenya, Guinea Bissau and Congo.
In the opening qualifier on June 13, Zambia settled for a barren draw against Guinea Bissau at Levy Mwanawansa Stadium in Ndola.
The 23-member squad has goalkeepers: Kennedy Mweene (Mamelodi Sundowns), Daniel Munyao (Red Arrows), Jacob Banda (Zesco United),
Defenders: Aaron Katebe (Maghreb Atlantic), Kabaso Chongo (TP Mazembe), Stoppila Sunzu (Lille, France), Christopher Munthali (Power Dynamos), Boyd Mkandawire (Napsa Stars), Benedict Chepeshi (Red Arrows) and Donashano Malama (Nkana)
Midfielders: Chisamba Lungu (Ural FC), Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala (both TP Mazembe), Chisamba Lungu (Ural FC, Russia), Kondwani Mtonga (North East, India), Buchizya Mfune, Jackson Chirwa (both Green Buffaloes), Benson Sakala (Power Dynamos), Solomon Sakala (Kabwe Warriors), Paul Katema, (Red Arrows), and Lubambo Musonda (Ulisses, Armenia)
Strikers: Collins Mbesuma (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Jackson Mwanza, Winston Kalengo (both from Zesco) and Friday Samu (Green Buffaloes).