Can Zambia Douse Malawi Flames?

THE Zambia Under-20 soccer squad this afternoon go into action against Malawi at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre with an eye on snatching one of the seven tickets to the Senegal 2015 African Youth Championship finals.
This contest for the 19th edition of the biennial championship which is the biggest stage for African youth football, has been reduced to 14 teams and the seven winners of these final fixtures will join hosts, Senegal.
Zambia coach Hector Chilombo has assembled a solid team that is, however, devoid of team captain Lubambo Musonda and defender Benedict Chepeshi but the squad still remains g to deliver.
The junior Flames coach Ernest Ntawali is however confident they can dispatch a fired-up Zambia side that got to this last stage of qualifiers after beating a determined Mozambique 4-0 over two legs.
Ntawali is putting his hopes on players like Chawananga Kaonga, Dalitso Sailesi, Abraham Kamwendo and Isaac Kaliat to shut out the junior Chipolopolo from going to Dakar.
Chilombo, however, remains resolute that Zambia will not play a closed game despite being away and would want to finish off the fixture in Malawi as they did with Mozambique in the previous round.
“We know Malawi well, they are our neighbours and that means the game will be tough but we have quality players here who can deliver a win just as they did in Mozambique, but we certainly will not underrate them.
“They came this far for a reason and that is because they are good. So we have to be very careful but in defending and as we attack,” he said.
Malawi got this far after eliminating Botswana in the first round with a 3-2 aggregate before getting past the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 3-1 aggregate in the second round.
Musonda, who was instrumental in Zambia’s win over Mozambique, will not be available as he has just clinched a professional deal in Armenia.
But looking at the quality in the team, Musonda’s absence should not worry Chilombo.
Instead the coach should be happy that he will have a chance to field both Patrick Ngoma and Dave Daka to torment the junior Flames in their backyard.
On a normal day, Chilombo would have partnered Musonda with Daka.
However, Ngoma scored a goal in each leg against Mozambique when Daka was injured and the absence of the captain allows him to field the two budding talents.
Daka has been consistent for Zanaco but Chilombo has extra firepower behind the two in Saith Sakala, his player at Napsa Stars, who is firing in all cylinders and should captain his side today.
In midfield, Nchanga Rangers’ Larry Bwalya should star for the junior Chipolopolo and assisted by Spencer Sautu who scored a cracker in the home win over Mozambique, Charles Zulu, Austin Muwowo and Simon Tembo.
The defence will have Kayawe Kapota and Boyd Mkandawire providing cover for Mangani Banda who is also Zanaco goalkeeper.
Zambia will host Malawi in a fortnight for the return match with the winner over two legs joining hosts Senegal for the final tournament scheduled for March 8-22, 2015.
The African Youth Championship semi-finalists will represent the continent at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand later next year.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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