Thursday, July 25, 2024

AFCON Qualifiers: Copper Bullets out to hunt Desert Foxes in a must-win affair

The Zambia national team will this evening be looking to redeem themselves in the 2021 Cameroon AFCON qualifiers when they host Algeria at the National Heroes Stadium in a must-win encounter.

The Copper Bullets sit bottom of Group H with just three points to their name while the Desert Foxes have already sealed their qualification to the continental showpiece.

On paper, Algeria is the clear favorite but Zambia will be boosted by the fact that they managed a double over the defending African Champions back in 2017 in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Overall the two teams have met a total of 15 times with Zambia only managing four wins and three draws, losing on eight occasions.

Meanwhile, Algeria is riding a 22-match unbeaten streak, the Desert Foxes have not lost a match since a 1-0 loss to Benin back in October 2018. Since their loss to Benin, Algeria has gone on an incredible 22-match unbeaten streak, winning 17 games and drawing 5, while outscoring their opponents by 30 goals (43 goals scored, 13 goals conceded).

However the Desert Foxes will be without six-star players in Manchester City star Riyadh Mahrez, Said Benrahma, Ramy Bensebaini, Ismael Bennacer, Sofiane Feghouli & Aissa Mandi who all did not travel for this evening’s AFCON 2021 qualifier due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Chipolopolo boss Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic will be without defenders Tandi Mwape and Zachariah Chilongoshi who are both suspended for this encounter.

In goal, Micho is expected to field in South African based Cyril Mwenya Chibwe with skipper Kabaso Chongo leading the backline. He will be partnered with either Luka Banda or Adrian Chama. Lubambo Musonda and Gamphani Lungu could be used in defense given the circumstances and the fact that they have previously played there and impressed. Benedict Chepeshi is another option on the right-back slot.

Nathan Sinkala is expected to take up the defensive midfield role with the Computer Enock Mwepu playing in a free role while Paul Katema could make a surprise start if Micho goes with a more cautious approach. Clatous Chota Chama, Collins Sikombe, and Rally Bwalya are the other available options.

Upfront Patson Daka will lead the attack alongside Augustine Mulenga while he could be joined by Lubambo Musonda, Spencer Sautu, or Clatous Chota Chama.

For Algeria, In-form Baghdad Bounedjah who has netted 17 goals in 38 appearances for Algeria is expected to lead the attack alongside Youcef Belaili and Rachid Ghezzal who is expected to take Riyadh Mahrez’s slot in Djamel Belmadi’s squad.

35-year-old Raïs M’Bolhi is expected to start between the sticks with Djamel Benlamri will partner Mehdi Tahrat.

Guedioura, Mehdi A,beid, and Harris Belkebla are expected to make a three-man midfield.

The match against Algeria will be played this evening at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka at 21:00hours.

Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s side will wrap up the qualifiers with an away fixture against Zimbabwe on Monday next week.

Algeria Probable line up: (4-3-3) – Raïs M’Bolhi, Mehdi Tahrat, Djamel Benlamri, Mehdi Zeffane, Adlène Guedioura, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Belkebla, Youcef Belaili, Rachid Ghezzal, Baghdad Bounedjah.

Zambia Probable line up: (3-4-3) – Cyril Chibwe, Kabaso Chongo, Benedict Chepeshi, Adrian Chama, Rodrick Kabwe, Lubambo Musonda, Nathan Sinkala, Enock Mwepu, Augustine Mulenga, Clatous Chota Chama, Patson Daka.

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