Zambia vow to qualify for 2018 World Cup

Sep 15, 2017
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 Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – Zambia does not want to leave any stone unturned in their quest to secure an outright win over Nigeria in the return leg billed for Uyo stadium in October.   

This comes amid a back-to-back victory over much vaunted Algeria in the FIFA World Cup Group B football qualifier match and the team is also bolstered by President Edgar Lungu’s call for the boys to make a berth at the global showpiece, the first ever.

Zambia’s impetus to make a first appearance at the World Cup appearance has been bolstered by a 3-1 routing of Algeria, nicknamed, the “Foxes” in Lusaka. The team went ahead and secured a slender 1-0 in Constantine, giving them a seven point advantage.

The Chipolopolo had earlier drawn against Cameroon and lost 2-1 to Nigeria in Lusaka, making the Chipolopolo vent with ‘hunger’ for a win.

President Lungu has raised the hype in the Chipolopolo camp and wants nothing but victories, having seen Zambia overcome Algeria.

“I am happy for the victory that the Chipolopolo boys posted in last night’s 2018 FIFA World Cup return leg qualifier against Algeria. The team has shown resilience and commitment to deliver good results for Mother Zambia.” he said in a statement.

The fusion of junior players from the under-20 team that lifted the continental trophy a few months ago, he adds, is impetus enough to drive the team to victory next month when they meet star-studded Nigeria before winding up with Cameroon in November.

“This performance by our soccer team represents the model Zambian citizen doing duty for mother Zambia abroad. The boys’ determination to win is an act in the direction,” adds President Lungu, who is also the football governing body’s patron.

Spurred by the presidency, the Football governing body-FAZ feels bolstered and is contemplating camping the team in Europe this month-end ahead of the penultimate 2018 FIFA World Cup Group B qualifier against the Super Eagles, in a win match encounter.

“We want to camp the team in Europe” Andrew Kamanga, the FA chief says.

The camping of the team in Europe is to make adequate preparations and again it is easier for the team to connect to Nigeria and also for the foreign-based players travel for the game.”

The desire to camp the team in Europe comes on the heels of the FA having camped the Under 20 team in Spain in February before they hosted the 2017 U-20 AFCON which the team won on 12 March.

The Zambia Under-20 again returned to Spain for three weeks in late April en-route to the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea where they reached the quarterfinals.

And national soccer team trainer, Wedson Nyirenda says he is happy with the plans to camp the team in Europe and that he does not want to leave anything to chance, given a potential opportunity to feature the team at the Russia World Cup event next year.

“It’s a good idea . . . initially we were written off before we played Algeria but at least we have proved a point that we can make it to the finals in Russia,” he told Southern Times in Lusaka.

Nyirenda’s hope contrast Algeria’s trainer and Spanish born-Lucas Alcaraz who argues that Zambia stands no chance of making the “cut” to the top four teams to be selected from Africa for the world soccer showpiece.

The Chipolopolo should instead focus on qualifying for the 2022 Qatar World Cup finals claiming they have a slim chance of making it to the 2018 edition in Russia. This is despite Nigeria dropping points against Cameroon after sharing 1-1 points.

Alcaraz further contends that despite Zambia’s 3-1 victory over Algeria, the team falls short of qualifying for the Russia showpiece despite the stamina showed since the eliminations started.

“Zambia has a balanced squad with a blend of youngsters but I don’t think they can make it for the World Cup in Russia. I know it was an interesting result in Cameroon, which gives hope to other teams, but still the momentum is with Nigeria.

“Zambian coach (Wedson Nyirenda) has a good team but I think he should concentrate on building a strong team with the focus on qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. I believe the Qatar target is attainable if they can maintain the same performance,” Alcaraz posted on his Instagram.

Nigeria have 10 points, six better than Chipolopolo while Cameroon have three, two clear of Algeria, which Alcaraz feels could console Zambia and assist them reconsider their world cup appearance dreams.

“Zambia will not feel much pain to miss out on the World Cup because they have never been to the tournament but it is different with us (Algeria) and Cameroon. Surely it will be something hard to accept although it looks like that is what is going to happen.

Anyway football is unpredictable and the unexpected can happen in the remaining games,” Alcaraz said.

Algeria has appeared at the World Cup four times with Cameroon having featured a record seven.

Nigeria has been to the World Cup for six times, having missed in 2006 when Germany hosted the event.  The Super Eagles have however, bowed out on the round of 16 three times, according to data.

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