By KALUMIANA KALUMIANA and MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
CHIPOLOPOLO coach Patrice Beaumelle has says he is not taking lightly the team’s fourth seed status and automatic group stage placing in the Morocco 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The 2012 winners enjoy a top five ranking behind Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and current African champions Nigeria respectively based on their performances in the last three AFCON editions including their run in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Chipolopolo will also go into the April 27 qualifying draws in Cairo for next year’s finals in Morocco as one of 21 sides exempted from the preliminary round qualifiers.
“We just have to work hard to qualify the team to AFCON 2015 in Morocco. We have seen during the CHAN that all the teams are improving. We have to concentrate on ourselves. Every single player has to push and work to deserve to be in the squad,” Beaumelle said.
The Chipolopolo will enter the fray in the seven group of four team’s final qualifying phase that will run from September to November that will see the top two finishers from each group and the best third place side joining hosts Morocco at next year’s tournament.
“It is never easy to qualify to AFCON, the boys and everyone knows that only work, discipline and commitment in addition to talent will make the difference,” the Frenchman said.
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) general secretary George Kasengele said said the seeding of Zambia among the top countries in the qualifying for the 2015 AFCON does not guarantee automatic qualification for the Chipolopolo.
Kasengele said in an interview yesterday that the seeding process had no bearing on the team’s chances of qualifying to the continental football showpiece and that the team should therefore aim at beating the opponents drawn against it.
“In football, we must be prepared to face any team and qualifying for the AFCON is based on the team’s performance and not the seeding. So seeding does not in any way guarantee our qualification we have to raise our performance,” he said.
In the group stage draws that will be conducted in April at the CAF headquarters in Cairo, Zambia will avoid being paired in the same group with teams such as reigning champions Nigeria, 2013 runners-up Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Tunisia.