By MICHAEL MIYOBA
AFTER a failed 2022 Cameroon AFCON qualifying campaign which saw Zambia become the whipping boys in Group H, the Chipolopolo will today engage in their final dead rubber qualifying match against rivals Zimbabwe.
According to Chipolopolo coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, the dead rubber match against Zimbabwe who have already qualified for the AFCON at the National Sports Stadium in Harare presents the chance for the blunt Copper Bullets to fight for pride.
But do the Chipolopolo have any pride left after being the whipping boys in Group H of the AFCON qualifiers where Zambia recorded three defeats, one win and one draw to make a historical failure to qualify for the AFCON for a third consecutive period?
The Chipolopolo will be seeking revenge when they take on Zimbabwe today after a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture two years ago when Green Eagles gaffer Aggrey Chiyangi was in the driving seat of the team before “Micho” was appointed coach.
With Algeria and Zimbabwe having qualified for the AFCON after getting 11 and seven points respectively from the five rounds of matches played in Group H, the result in today’s Battle of Zambezi will not matter because nothing can change Chipolopolo’s fate. Rejuvenated by Thursday’s away 1-0 win over Botswana, Zimbabwe are the favourites to triumph in the “Battle of Zambezi” after securing a third consecutive AFCON appearance though recent clashes between the sides leave little to choose between the teams, as the last six meetings have produced three wins apiece.
The Warriors will be without their star man Khama Billiat who tormented the Chipolopolo in the reverse fixture.
“We are going to give time to players who have not had enough time to showcase what they can do for the national team.
“Besides we have to protect players carrying yellow cards from being suspended for the first game at the AFCON finals,” Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic said.
With almost nothing to play for, “Micho” believes the game against Algeria presents a turning point for the Chipolopolo boys who shift their attention to the World Cup qualifiers after missing out on the AFCON.