By Sandra Mwila –
ZAMBIA forward Conlyde Luchanga says the fans’ support during the Africa under-20 tournament will be key to Zambia making it passed the group Stage of the tournament and qualify to the FIFA World Cup.
And former Sports Minister Kenneth Chipungu yesterday joined the people rallying the Zambian team and called on the players to give their all and bring smiles on the Zambians.
Luchanga, who is one of the three top strikers coach Beston Chambeshi will have at his disposal, said that the fans help in calming to the players during such high level games and hoped Zambians will turn out in large numbers.
Luchanga said the junior Chipolopolo players were fully aware of the people’s expectations especially that they tournament was on home soil and that they were ready to meet the challenge.
“We are ready for this, we have been training for a long time together and we are well tuned now. People are expecting a lot from us and we have to deliver.
“Fans will be key to our progression in this tournament. The fans were excellent against South Africa in the friendly and we want more of that. Like that, we can deliver,” he said.
He said a win in the first game of the tournament was always important but quickly hinted of the threat Guinea posed saying they are always a strong side at the junior competitions.
And goalie Mangani Banda said he faced this same Guinea side two years ago at the Africa under-17 tournament and warned that they were a sharp side.
“They beat us 1-0. But we are better prepared now and ready for them. I want to keep a clean sheet and I hope the strikers score,” said the first choice under-20 goalie.
And former Sports Minister Chipungu, who walked into the Times office to declare his support for the team, said the hosting the tournament was a great time for Zambia to get to lift the continental trophy.
“There is a lot of joy to be draw from winning this tournament. the joy will cut across all spheres and I propose that we put aside the politics for two weeks and help the boys win this tournament,” he said.
Chipungu, who was sports Minister from 2008 to 2011, also praised Government and FAZ for hosting the tournament stating this will open doors to hosting bigger events.
“We have these two huge stadia and also the Olympics Youth Development Centre. How well we host this and the size of the crowds will open doors for even bigger tournaments like the All-Africa Games.
Chipungu was Minister when the Global Economic Crunch forced Zambia to withdraw from hosting the 2011 All-Africa Games.