By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
THE Zambia Under-17 squad will this afternoon be seeking to seal a historic qualification to the Africa Junior Championship when they take on Uganda in the final qualifying round return leg match at Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala.
Coach Chris Kaunda’s lads enjoy a two-goal advantage going into this encounter after they outshined the Uganda Cubs in the first leg at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka two weeks ago.
With the young Chipolopolo needing to avoid a defeat to qualify for the Niger 2015 championship, pressure is on the Cubs to overturn a two-goal deficit and score three unanswered goals to book a final place.
The young Chipolopolo, who had arrived in Kampala on Thursday morning, had their first training session at Makerere grounds with Kaunda vowing to guide his side to the Niger championship.
“There is no way we can just throw away our lead (2-0) from the first leg, we have to complete the journey that we started,” he said.
Kaunda will be hoping skipper Patson Daka and Edwin Chipile, who scored a goal each in the first leg, will be in good form to deliver another assault on the Cubs.
Danny Sikanyika, who was impressive at home, is likely to get Kaunda’s nod to start between the sticks with Edwin Chipile, Salati Lungu, Prosper Chilufya and Kingsley Musabula Junior expected to form a solid backline.
Mwepu is expected to be instrumental in the midfield that also has Musonda Siame and Garry Mwelwa while Daka leads the frontline.
The Ugandan side on Sunday warmed up for this crucial fixture with a 5-2 thrashing of Makerere University in a friendly match that saw strikers Shaban Mohammed and Alex Komakech scoring a brace each with defender Willy Ochen adding the fifth goal.
Uganda coach Matia Lule, who vowed to apply new tactics in this match, could not promise an outright victory against the young Chipolopolo.
“In the first leg, we were adjusting to Zambia’s style of play. But the boys now know what to expect although I cannot promise heaven on earth from these players,” Lule said.
Uganda’s United States-based skipper Andrew Okiring will be carrying his nation’s hopes of making it to next year’s finals with defenders Bashir Asiku, Diego Katumba and Kipper Luwalu, who suffered knocks after the first leg, all up for selection.
Meanwhile, Kaunda yesterday declined an offer by a Uganda Football Federation official to have the team relocated to another hotel from the three-star Grand Global hotel where they were accommodated.
He said the move was going to disturb the players, whom he claimed had already got used to the environment.