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Under-23 focus on beating Egypt

ZAMBIA Under-23 national team coach Osward Mutapa says Zambia will have to fight to qualify for the Africa Cup before thinking about winning it and qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
On Sunday, Mutapa unveiled a 30-man provisional squad that will face Egypt in this month’s final 2023 U-23 AFCON qualifier matches.
Zambia qualified to the last round after beating Sierra Leone 2-1 on aggregate and will play Egypt in the first leg of the decider on March 20 before hosting the North Africans in the return fixture scheduled for March 26.
In an interview after yesterday’s training session at Edwin Imboela Stadium in Lusaka, Mutapa, who doubles as Nkwazi FC head coach said the team was not under-pressure to deliver an AFCON title following the Under-20 failure in Egypt.
Mutapa however noted that the Under-23 where determined to emulate the Under-20 and the Under-17 national teams that qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Starting with Egypt away… very tough game but all games are tough nowadays. They played Eswatini home and away and I think they drew home and beat eSwatini by a lone goal.
“We can equally go there and get a sound result. If we look at how we played against Sierra Leone, yes different ball game but we got the result away from home and finished the job here so we intend to do the same.
On beefing up the squad with foreign-based stars, Mutapa said; “ Yes we need to beef up with foreign-based players but again you find that we have players like Lameck Banda who is also part of the senior team so we lose out even when he is eligible to play for us.”
“We also have Mana Chiwisa who plays for Atlanta and we would love to have him in our team. We equally have Roney Muyangwa, playing for Gaborone United and he has been playing in the Champions league. These are players we would like to have but they are not available so we have to go with the same people and in the last game we used the same players so we have to keep the faith in them,” Mutapa said.
The winner of the two-legged fixture between Zambia and Egypt will qualify for the 2023 Youth AFCON which will be held in June in Tunisia.


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