U-20 COSAFA 2018-ZAMBIA MUST AIM FOR GOLD
18 Months on from the ‘Bola na Lesa’ boys’ impressive showing at the 2017 FIFA Under 20 World cup, there hasn’t been much to celebrate about Zambian football apart from the Copper Queens qualifying to the just ended Womens Afcon in Ghana. On the male front, disappointments have mounted from the Under 17 level through to the Senior National team.
The Under 20 Cosafa tournament being hosted on the copperbelt presents a perfect opportunity to end the year on a positive note for Zambian football.
Not in any way will it take away the anguish of missing out on qualification for the 2019 Afcon for both Senior National team and Junior Chipolopolo but will be soothing, give the right boost going into 2019 and restore smiles on faces of those who follow the game closely across the country.
Charles Bwale’s charges are a collection of experienced players at this level as this is the second tournament for most of them having also made another attempt at winning the Junior COSAFA tourney 12 months ago.
Last time their failure to go all the way was excused by their inexperience and just having graduated from the under 17 but this time around they are expected to be wiser and make better decisions.
As evidenced in the first game triumph over Malawi, they were under pressure for most of the game but utilized the few opportunities that were created to emerge victorious.
Additionally, these players have been together for close to two (2) years so they shouldn’t struggle for chemistry. They have had several camps during this period and cannot complain about lack of match activity as they have played a lot of friendlies during this period.
They looked a bit disjointed in the opening fixture against Malawi but picked up in the second half and looked more assured. This chemistry developed over the last twenty (20) months must serve them well at this tournament.
Further, this tournament provides an opportunity for redemption. These are the lads that were tasked to replicate the heroics of Patson Daka and Co. only a few months earlier but they came short and sis so by a long mile.
They couldn’t retain the COSAFA Crown and lost the AfCON crown even before landing a foot at the tournament proper by failing to qualify after failing to get past Burundi.
Further much is still said about their failure 12 months ago in the COSAFA and should still be running on their young minds. However, in Charles Bwale,Perry Mutapa and Kalililo Kakonje the expectation is that they have been psyched accordingly and advised to focus on the matter at hand.
Klings Kangwa, Prince Mumba and Edward Chilufya should be able to provide leadership on the pitch and guide those who haven’t played long enough in demanding conditions.
There can never be a better way of these young men redeeming themselves and exorcising the ghost of COSAFA 2017 and AfCON 2019 qualification than winning this competition.
Another factor that should spur the team on is home comforts. The numbers in the stands on the opening day may not have been the biggest but the win posted against Malawi should bring a few more spectators to the subsequent matches. The only way to get the numbers is by winning and the numbers should provide an extra lift when the going gets tough during match progression.
The AfCON 2017 is a case in point when fans played huge roles such as in the Semi Final against South Africa and the Final against Senegal when the Senegalese were giving it all their best to try and force a way back into the game.
2018 remains a bad year for Zambian football both at Club and National Level. The clubs struggled in their quest to conquer Africa, all men national teams have had it rough and the women came short just when they had raised expectations.
Under 20 may be a developmental stage where winning at all cost shouldn’t be the main objective but against such a poor 12 months, the lads have no option but to summon all they have, push to the limit and dig for gold.
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