…Chipolopolo skipper Lubambo Musonda declared fit, Edward Chilufya still down
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
AFTER starting the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with an exciting 4-2 win over Congo Brazzaville on Friday, Zambia’s quest to clinch a maiden World Cup appearance will come under scrutiny when they face Niger in their second Group E fixture slated for the Stade de Marrakech Stadium in Morocco.
And Captain Lubambo Musonda has been declared fit for the round two fixture set to provide some intriguing action as the two teams aim to beat 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists Morocco for the lone World Cup bound spot in Group E.
While Zambia will be seeking to maintain their perfect start after the sweet win over Congo Brazzaville, Niger will fight to recover from the painful 1-0 defeat to Tanzania in their first-round fixture played on Saturday in Marrakech.
The AFCON bound Chipolopolo boys who arrived in Morocco on Sunday morning are prematch favourites as they face a Niger side which has lost all its six competitive matches since January and failed to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
Despite Zambia being the favourites, Chipolopolo assistant coach Moses Sichone is expecting a tough encounter.
The former Chipolopolo defender is however confident that the team will snatch another win to stay top of Group E.
“We know that the game against Niger won’t be easy but looking at the first match we played against Congo, the boys played well, and we just have to rectify a few mistakes we made for tomorrow’s game to get maximum points,” Sichone said.
Sichone confirmed that skipper Lubambo Musonda is back from injury to boost options for the squad ahead of the Niger clash.
Asked if there are any injury concerns in the squad, Sichone said; “Unfortunately, we have only one patient Edward Chilufya who remained back home because of sickness. We’re not hundred percent sure on his illness. We thank God Lubambo, the captain is back in the team.”
Grant is expected to maintain the same starting 11 which impressed on Friday with veteran defender Stopila Sunzu leading the defence with Dominick Chanda, Benedict Chepeshi and Rodrick Kabwe while Emmanuel Banda, Kings Kangwa and Benson Sakala will be retained in the middle of the park.
Upfront, Grant will once again rely on striker Patson Daka who has proven to be the most lethal Bullet in the Chipolopolo squad despite him having fallen out of favour at his English club Leicester City where he has only managed one appearance in the Championship this season.
Daka has continued to play a key role for the Chipolopolo as his brace helped to dismantle Congo Brazzaville and escalated his goal tally for the Chipolopolo to 17 goals on par with ninth ranked 2012 AFCON winner James Chamanga.
Daka will likely partner with ex-Rangers attacker Fashion Sakala who scored his ninth goal for Zambia on Friday and Italy-based Lameck Banda who tormented the Congo Brazzaville defence and contributed a goal in the 4-2 triumph.
Zambia top Group E with three points on par with Tanzania who are scheduled to face Group E favourites Morocco who will be playing their first match today.