By SANDRA MWILA –
ZAMBIA’S preparations for the Volleyball World Cup qualifiers set for Kenya next month have suffered a setback after three players from the 20-member squad were ruled out due to impending examinations.
Another player is also a major doubt because of injury.
The affected quartet has three from the Copperbelt University (CBU) who will be writing examinations at the time of the qualifiers while the other is from Nkwazi who has a nagging knee injury.
Paul Mwale, Chilala Bbalo and Kaluba Malibati are the CBU players whom national coach Peter Kombaniya ruled out while Nkwazi’s Bernard Mambonge is racing against time to fend off a knee injury and have his fitness assessed.
Speaking in an interview during the morning training session yesterday, Kombaniya said the team would miss the three players’ skills but that their absence would not affect the preparations because those remaining were also good players.
“We will miss their services but the rest of the guys are still a good number for me to draw out the final 12 players that will represent Zambia at the world cup qualifiers,” he said.
Kombaniya said the final team will be ready after a fortnight of accessing the squad which started training on five days ago.
“My expectations are high because most of the players in the team played in the first and second rounds of the World Cup qualifiers,” he said.
Kombaniya said the players were putting in their best in training as they hope to make history for Zambia and qualify to the World Cup.
He said most of the players in the team were from the University of Zambia (UNZA) and league champions Nkwazi volleyball clubs who represented Zambia at the Zone Six Clubs Championships in Botswana.
Kombaniya said he was sure that the players from UNZA and Nkwazi gained valuable experience from the Zone Six outing.
He said Zambia had been drawn in Group U against hosts Kenya, Botswana, Egypt and Cape Verde in the competition that starts on February 5 up to 11 in Nairobi.
The coach also expressed happiness with the lifting of the five-year ban that was slapped on the Zambia Volleyball Association (ZAVA) executive, saying the suspension affected the preparations of the team.
“I am glad the Minister (Chishimba Kambwili) lifted the ban on our executive because the boys were worried that all that they worked hard for will be in vain,” he said.
Kombaniya also thanked the ZAVA executive for the support they have been rendering towards the preparations for the World Cup qualifiers.
The 17 players in the provisional team including the injured Mambonge are Kunda Kalongoyi, Augustine Mutiti, Ephraim Lumbala, Steve Kabonge, Mwandu Chitima, Mushe Iluvu and Mweete Tandulu, all from Nkwazi.
The rest are Kangwa Chanda, Bwalya Matipa, Kelvin Chibale, Jack Chongo and Hillary Puka of Green Buffaloes, Peter Kombaniya Junior and Martin Zulu of City of Lusaka and UNZA’s Zachariah Kanyimbo.