Kalunga relives 2017 U-20 AFCON triumph… Names Mwepu as most talented of the group
Portuguese based winger Kenneth Kalunga says winning 2017 U-20 AFCON tournament was an unbelievable and at the same time most fulfilling feeling of his life.
Kalunga was a member of the coach Beston Chambeshi all-conquering squad that won the 2016 U-20 COSAFA, 2017 U-20 AFCON and went on to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
The 23-year-old believes the team had very good preparations for a lot of time and hence they bonded as a team.
“It was the most fulfilling feeling of my life until now. Just Being part of the team was a dream come true. Winning the tournament was unbelievable. I still remember it as detailed as ever,” Kalunga told the ZamFoot Crew in an exclusive interview.
“The preparation was very good. One of the reasons we did so well. We spent over 3 months in camp preparing and playing friendly games. We even traveled to Spain for almost a month and we got so united as a team. We knew each other very well,” he added.
Kalunga feels the long period of time the team spent together made them become a special side.
“I got along with everyone very well but like always, there’re some people you’re closer to than others and for me, it was Prosper Chiluya, Emmanuel Banda, Conlyde Luchanga and Sydney Phiri,” he said.
“I think why we were special is because of the amount of time we spent together. The bond was very deep among everyone. We did everything together. Praying, singing, eating, training and socializing. So when we went on to the pitch, everyone was ready to give their all for the next person. Plus we understood our task very well.”
The former Gomez player believes Enock Mwepu is a special talent from that group despite it being full of talented players. Kalunga also revealed that Solomon Sakala motivated and encouraged the team as well as the captain of the side.
“Solomon Sakala was a very vocal captain. For me, he led well and encouraged and motivated when he had to. Also Mangani Banda and Enoch. But with that being said, I think we were all leaders to an extent,” he said.
“That team was flooded with so much talent. But I think the most talented would be mwepu. He is highly gifted and he is easily one of the most intelligent players I’ve played with until now.”
“Personally and we as a team not only thought, but we knew that we would win it. The amount of belief in God and also in each other, there were no doubts about being champions at the end of the tournament,” he added.
After topping group A, Zambia went on to beat South Africa in the semifinals 1-0 to set up a final with Senegal.
In the final, Zambia took the lead 16 minutes into the match, Senegal goalkeeper Mamadou Moustapha Seck failed to deal with Fashion Sakala’s powerful cross and Patson Daka pounced on a loose ball to score his fourth goal of the tournament before Edward Chilufya could double the lead 18 minutes later again the goalkeeper making a mistake clearing the ball directly into the path of Edward Chilufya.
There was a little matter of controversy in the second half after a Senegalese player threw an alleged charm in the Zambia goal but in the end, the ‘Bola na Lesa’ Boys held on to win the title, Zambia’s first and only U-20 AFCON trophy.
Edward Chilufya, Luther Singh and Patson Daka finished as joint top goalscorers with four goals each while Daka was named as the player of the tournament and later went on to win the CAF young player of the year award partly thanks to his outstanding performance at the tournament.
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