Zambia U-20 national team boss Chisi Mbewe has admitted that it has not been easy to pick players for the upcoming COSAFA U-20 Championship because of the massive talent pool at his disposal.
Mbewe told the ZamFoot Crew in an interview after Tuesday’s training session that the process of picking players was going on well.
Mbewe and his technical bench had a group of 70 players and have now reduced it to 38 and it is expected to reduce further as the tournament draws near.
“Well, the preparations are going on well. We have started reducing on the numbers, we now want to concentrate on the team that will participate in Eswatini. So far so good, the boys are putting in a lot of effort, we have a lot of competition,” he said.
“The first time we regrouped we had 48 players but then we again opened doors to others so that we can have a wide pool of players for selection, we even reached about 70 but again we have reduced to 38 players now.”
“With my technical bench we make sure we pick the quality required to participate but it has not been easy. Zambia is a country full of talented players, only numbers are restricting certain players from being part and parcel of the squad,” he added.
Mbewe says the team has set their initial target on reaching the final to seal qualification to the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
“Well we know we have a huge task ahead of us, We need to go and compete in the COSAFA for us to qualify for the AFCON in Egypt. We need to win it or come out second,” he said.
“Our first target is to reach the final, then we are assured of qualification. When we do that then plan to win it. Otherwise we know that we have a huge task and the most important thing now is to prepare the boys so that they can go and compete.
“We continue reminding the boys the importance of hard work and discipline so that they can even go and play abroad.”
“We just request them to rally behind the boys and support the team. Zambia is a footballing nation and we know how much the soccer fans love the game. Their encouragement will help push the boys to achieve our set targets,” he added.
Zambia were drawn with hosts Eswatini, Botswana and Mauritius in Group A.
The 2022 COSAFA U20 Men’s Championship will be held from October 6-16 in Eswatini.
The tournament in Eswatini will be used as a qualifier for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Only the finalists will qualify for the continental showpiece to be held in Egypt.