Clutch time in Maputo
Published On November 14, 2014 » 3090 Views» By Administrator Times » Football, Sports
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in Maputo
THE Chipolopolo can today seal qualification to the Equatorial Guinea 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals with a win over the Mambas of Mozambique at the 42,000-seater Estádio Nacional do Zimpeto in Maputo.
Tied on five points with two games remaining in the qualifiers, both Zambia and Mozambique can either make or bangle their 2015 AFCON appearance making a case for an electrifying late afternoon action.
After a poor start in the campaign that saw Honour Janza`s side pick just two points from the opening three games, Zambia rebounded with a win at home over Niger to crawl back into contention and also overtook Mozambique into second position on goal difference.
This sudden change of fortunes puts Zambia into the driving seat of taking the second qualification spot with one already gone to Group F leaders Cape Verde, who are on nine points and can win the group with a win over Niger.
With the Confederation of African Football (CAF) opting for head-to-head in the 2015 qualifiers, a win for Zambia would take them to eight points, the same points Mozambique can get if they win the last game and Zambia loses.
But on head-to-head record, Zambia will have picked four points off Mozambique and would give Chipolopolo the nod to go through to the AFCON finals where the hosts is yet to be known.
The same can, however, apply for Mozambique should results go the Mamba’s way and shut out Zambia attempt to make a 17th appearance at the finals which will be the 12th time in the last 13 editions.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya is fully aware of the stakes and believes it would be good for the Chipolopolo to qualify from Maputo.
Janza equally wants the job done from here despite missing his most reliable player in defender Stopilla Sunzu who is said to be injured back in France and has been sidelined for about two to three weeks.
“We have to focus on what we have and work with these players here. We have good players and I believe they can deliver. This is why we always work with a huge squad,” Janza said.
And in the absence of Sunzu, Nathan Sinkala will lead the Chipolopolo against a Mozambican side that has been rallied by its President-elect Filipe Nyusi who has offered 1.5 million Metcash (US$48,000) should they qualifiy for the finals.
Mozambique coach Jaoa Chissano said pressure will be on Zambia heading into the game because they have always qualified.
“Zambia has always qualified to the Africa Cup so they are the ones who will be under pressure. Our fans want to see us beat Zambia and that’s the only pressure we have but we are prepared for it,” he said.
That charged up Mozambique side may not be the only problem Zambia may have to face as the weather forecasts says the game could be played in wet conditions after rains poured whole day.
But Janza has players who have played in all sorts of conditions, be it rain, snow and scorching heat with fit-again Kennedy Mweene as usual will be between the posts with Christopher Munthali and Nyambe Mulenga expected to stand in central defence while Emmanuel Mbola and Davies Nkausu might start on the wings.
Nathan Sinkala and Rainford Kalaba should marshal the midfield with Emmanuel Mayuka expected to lead the attack.
One scenario the Chipolopolos should avoid is getting into a draw as it will take the qualification battle to Ndola where they face Cape Verde on Wednesday in the final match of the qualifiers.

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