By GRACE CHAILE-
CHIPOLOPOLO coach, Patrice Beaumelle is relishing the challenge posed by FIFA 2014 World Cup-bound Japan in the June 6 high-profile international friendly match against Zambia in the United States of America.
Speaking in an interview yesterday after taking the local team through a training session at the Barclays Sports Complex in Lusaka, Beaumelle said Japan was a strong team that would give Zambia good preparations ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
He believes the Chipolopolo would give a good account of themselves against the Blue Samurai in the match set for the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Beaumelle predicted a tough match as Japan would by then be ready for the Brazil World Cup finals.
The Frenchman, however, said the game would accord the technical bench an opportunity to assess the capabilities of the players before the start of the Morocco 2015 AFCON qualifiers in September.
“Japan is a strong side, who will be using the friendly game to prepare a few days before the World Cup begins. It is also an advantage for us as we assess our capabilities before playing the Africa Cup 2015 qualifying matches,” he said.
Japan coach, Alberto Zaccheroni said he picked on Zambia because of the Chipolopolo’s commanding performance at the 2012 AFCON finals.
The Zambia match will be Japan’s final preparatory engagement before trekking to Brazil for the World Cup which will run from June 12 to July 13.
Beaumelle also dispelled assertions that Uganda was not a strong team, saying it may not be better than Zambia on the FIFA rankings but was one team that had given the Chipolopolo a tough game.
And Beaumelle said he was proud of the positive results from the routine monthly camping for locals as new players have managed to grab the attention of MTN Premier Division League clubs.
He said it was encouraging to see players whom he called up to the national team in the previous campings being signed on by teams in the league.
“In the last campings we worked hard and saw some of the new players being signed on by Super Division League teams. Players like Evans Bwembya from Luapula was signed by Nchanga Rangers. I am happy that we are meeting one of the targets of the camping,” he said.
He also said the inclusion of new players for the Japan international friendly would depend on the progress made in training.
“You cannot take a boy from Kasama and put him directly in the Chipolopolo. Talent has to be developed first. But we saw new players play in the match against Uganda like Evans Kangwa who made a tremendous difference, Moses Phiri, Kennedy Mudenda and Rodrick Kabwe,” he said.
He commended the players for the extra commitment they were putting in training and believed they were capable of competing against senior players for Chipolopolo slots.
“I am happy with the extra commitment exhibited by the players. I believe some of these players have the potential to compete at an international level. For instance, Evans Kangwa put up a good show in the last friendly game (against Uganda) and is now an inspiration to the 10 new players that have joined camp as he is an African champion,” he said.
Beaumelle said Patson Daka would not join camp as he was with the under-17 team while Wilfred Zyambo just ended camp with the Under-20 national squad.
The three-day routine monthly camping which are in preparations for the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, ends this afternoon.