THE Zambia soccer team comprising mainly local-based players will play Malawi on July 6 in an international friendly match that coach Herve Renard will use to keep his home players fit.
Renard is expected to unveil his home-grown developmental Chipolopolo squad by the month-end ahead of the game which will be part of Malawi’s 48th independence anniversary celebrations in Blantyre.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) spokesperson, Erick Mwanza said in Lusaka yesterday that Renard wanted to use the Malawi outing to keep the local players battle-ready for future international engagements.
“Since the decision was made to shift the COSAFA Senior Challenge Championship to next year, we decided that we still needed to go ahead with our policy of keeping our development and CHAN team active. Malawi was supposed to host this year’s COSAFA Championship around the same period. That is why when president Kalusha (Bwalya), vice president (Boniface) Mwamelo and the General Secretary (George) Kasengele were in Budapest for the FIFA Congress in May, they concluded the matter of the match with the Malawi federation,” he said.
Mwanza said the Chipolopolo would have at least a game every month, starting next month and that on the FIFA date in August, the African champions would face South Korea in a friendly match, marking the beginning of Zambia’s preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
Zambia with 15 other 2012 AFCON finalists were on bye in the preliminary rounds and will play a two-legged qualifier for a place at the 2013 South African finals.
The draws for the 2013 AFCON final qualifiers, which will be played on September 7-9 and October 12–14, will be held in the first week of July.
Mwanza said the Chipolopolo would in November renew its rivalry with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the Mandela Challenge.
On March 23, 2013, Zambia will resume the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifiers with a Group D tie in Lesotho before hosting the tiny Southern African kingdom in Ndola in the returning leg.
And Zambia women soccer team coach, Enala Simbeye said his charges’ failure to qualify to the 2012 African Women Championship should not derail the development strides the women’s sport had scored in the last four years.
The women squad lost 1-2 to South Africa at the weekend, to bow out on a 2-6 aggregate score and miss qualification.
Simbeye said the last four years had seen Zambian women’s teams enter all competitions and some steps had been taken to further strengthen the existing women structures in the country.
“We must continue working hard. We know the people could be disappointed that we lost and we didn’t qualify. Others may even be thinking that we go back to the past where women’s teams were not entered into international competitions,” she told FAZFootball.com.
Zambia Voluntary Soccer Fans Association (ZAVOSOFA) strongman Peter Makembo has called on FAZ to ensure that women football structures were in place to allow for a broader selection of players.
Makembo said there was need to have strong leagues across the country unlike just depending on the same players from the Midlands and the Copperbelt. He also called on FAZ to maintain coach Simbeye but equip her with more coaching courses.