Chipolopolo ready to defend title
Africa’s reigning football champions, Zambia, are in great shape and ready to defend their title when the 29th edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicks-off on Sunday (January 19) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, President of Zambia Football Association and former international skipper, Kalusha Bwalya, said the national team have sharpened up in the aftermath of their lukewarm preparatory matches in which they recorded a string of losses.
Chipolopolo have come under fiery criticism from fans after losing to Tanzania, Saudi Arabia and neighbours Angola in friendly matches played since November last year.
They recently salvaged 0-0 draws against North African giants, Morocco, in a friendly played in South Africa and against Norway at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola last Saturday.
But, Kalusha is optimistic that Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets), “are ready for the battle to defend the crown”.
He cited Zambia’s performance against Morocco and Norway as an indication of their readiness.
Bwalya, the 1988 African Footballer of the Year and one of the most celebrated players in Zambia, is happy that the team is injury-free.
However, several soccer analysts have warned the team to guard against complacency, as all teams travelling for the AFCON 2013 want to beat Zambia and show that last year’s victory was a “fluke”.
Zambia is in group C with Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, a relatively easy but tricky group which can evoke emotions of 1996 when Zambia lost 1-2 to Nigeria in the finals in Tunisia.
Meanwhile, ZAFA delegation leader to the AFCON, Pivoty Simwanza, says Chipolopolo are on the path of reaching the form that saw them win the Africa Cup.
He is confident that Zambia will retain the Africa Cup.
“We are going all the way to the final and winning the trophy,” Simwanza said.