By NDINAWE SIMPELWE in Marrakech, Morocco –
CHIPOLOPOLO coach Wedson Nyirenda has rallied his troops to up their game in the quarterfinals after a sloppy display that saw the team held to a 1-1 draw by the Brave Warriors of Namibia in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) group B encounter on Monday.
With that result, Zambia avoided hosts Morocco for a quarter-final date and will instead face Sudan on Saturday after finishing top of the group.
Nyirenda said in an interview that Namibia had taught Zambia a lesson that there was no plain sailing at the tournament as games would continue to get tougher.
“We are going to meet Sudan in Marrakech, not an easy game once more. Every game that we have played has not been easy. We need to improve because today my players were complacent. Sudan is a good team but we will prepare for them,” Nyirenda said.
He however, commended his lads for showing a winning character despite not playing well and conceding a poorly defended free-kick on 12 minutes.
Nyirenda said the character shown by the team was encouraging because having a winning mentality was important at such a tournament.
He admitted that Chipolopolo was shocked with the way Namibia played and was happy the team fought back after going down.
Zambia conceded in the 12th minute but was level in the 24th minute through Lazarous Kambole’s second goal of the tournament.
“My players were very complacent and thought it was going to be an easy game. We were shocked in the first half, Namibia got the goal first but we reacted and came with an equaliser. One thing I can say about the team is that they have shown a lot of character that they want to win despite all the difficulties that we are getting into at times,” he said.
He further said the objective still remains the same of winning the tournament.
And Namibia coach Ricardo Manetti said his players were motivated to top the group and return to the tourist town Marrakech which everyone had fallen in love with.
He said Namibia showed that they cannot always play defensively as they attacked against Zambia and was unlucky not to win the match.
“We showed that we can play different football. The first two games were about the result and getting out of the group. Tonight we showcased that we can play good football and the team is strong. We dealt better with ball possession.” Manetti said.
He said it does not matter who the Brave Warriors faced in the quarterfinal because the players were motivated to beat any opposition.
He further said facing Morocco was a good thing because the team was tired of playing in an empty stadium.
“Now that we know that we are playing Morocco, I do not think that we should be under any pressure, the stadium is going to be packed (80, 000).
“My players are going to enjoy the occasion, they will love it. We are tired of playing in empty stadiums, we deserve playing in the quarter-finals and we deserve to play before a full stadium,” Manetti said.