Zambia captain, Rainford Kalaba, has issued a rallying call for the team to redeem themselves with victory in their opening Group K qualifier on Saturday at home against Mozambique at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The 2012 champions failed to qualify for 2017 tournament on Kalaba’s watch, something the TP Mazembe midfielder is desperate to erase.
We didn’t go to Africa Cup of Nations the last time and this is an opportunity to go to the 2019 tournament, the 30-year captain said.
I think we have rested a lot, now we are back to business. We are hoping for a good start because this is another challenge, he added.
Memories of the Chipolopolo’s poor start to the 2017 qualifiers when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Guinea Bissau in what was a prelude of things to come in their failed qualification to the Gabon finals are still fresh on Kalaba’s mind.
It is a must win for us because we want to start the qualifiers on a high note, Kalaba said.
We have forgotten about what happened last year. We are united and the atmosphere in the team is good. The guys are happy and pushing each other in training.
I expect everyone to put in 100 per cent so that we can go to the AFCON in Cameroon, he observed.
Kalaba remarked that their junior compatriots’ recent success with the 2017 U-20 AFCON triumph on home soil last March and 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinal debut, has put pressure on the seniors to stand up and be counted.
And there are no injury concerns although Kalaba’s club-mate Nathan Sinkala was not selected for what Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda has described as tactical reasons.
However, another Kabala playing mate with the DR Congo giants, Given Singuluma is back in the team after a two-year hiatus.
The nimble-footed Kalaba has also warned that their unbeaten record against Mozambique should not lead to complacency.
They also want to go to the AFCON so they are no easy games. We will respect them but this is our home ground we need to get maximum points, the Zambia captain concluded.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football