By SANDRA MWILA –
THE victorious Zambia under-20 yesterday received a thunderous welcome as they touched down at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport fresh from lifting the COSAFA Cup for the 11th time.
The squad was welcomed by Ministry of Sport and FAZ officials that gave every player and members of the technical staff a banquet of flowers.
Sports Minister Moses Mawere, who arrived with the team, said the squad should not relax but work hard to qualify to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals.
Mawere said the squad exhibited great football and that Government would ensure they get the needed exposure ahead of the 2017 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
“Hearty congratulations to the boys and technical bench. This is a tip of the iceberg and we expect them to qualify to the World Cup next year,” Mawere said.
FAZ treasurer Rix Mweemba said the association was grateful to the Government’s support.
Mweemba echoed the minister’s sentiments, urging the team to aim for World Cup qualification.
Under-20 coach Beston Chambeshi said he had a strong team to compete at the 2017 AFCON which Zambia will host.
Chambeshi said in a post match interview that winning the 2016 COSAFA title was a step in the right direction ahead of the continental challenge.
An excited Chambeshi said after being crowned champions at the Moruleng Stadium in South Africa a number of lessons have been picked at the tournament that will be helpful during the AFCON.
He said he was happy that they have met their objective of winning the 11th COSAFA title and commended the boys for a job well done.
“We have come up with a strong team that will compete at the AFCON. Winning the COSAFA was our plan when we got here, we have learnt a lot of lessons that will help us during the AFCON,” Chambeshi said.
Chambeshi said it was a tough final against South Africa but the good preparations ahead of the competition helped the team emerge victorious.
He said South Africa came hard on his team but the two goals through Kenneth Kalunga and player of the tournament Boyd Musonda helped them emerge victories.
And Musonda said he was happy that the team fulfilled their objective of winning the COSAFA title.
He said after getting his player of the tournament award that he was happy that he could contribute to the team’s victory.
“It was not an easy game it was tough, I feel good and happy that I am part of this achievement. We planned to win the cup and we did it,” Musonda said.
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo Coach Wedson Nyirenda who was attached to the team said Zambia’s winning of the under-20 COSAFA championship will have a positive impact as they prepare for the Africa cup which the country was hosting next year.
Nyirenda said the win was a huge morale booster for the boys as they prepare for the AFCON which the country was hosting in less than three months.
“This is good for the boys because it will boost their confidence for next years Afcon which we are hosting,” he said.
He said he was happy that the team was adapting to the new philosophy and concept which was being inculcated in them.
Nyirenda also commended the technical bench and urged them not to go to bed and focus on becoming better every day.
“We are looking good in many areas but we need to work hard in some few areas but all in all I am proud of the team,” he said.
He urged the boys to replicate the same form at the AFCON which would be crucial since it will be on home soil.
“The boys should put in 100 per cent during the AFCON because it will be on home soil and the stakes are quite high,” he said.