…as Chipolopolo intensify AFCON preps
By MICHAEL MIYOBA
CHIPOLOPOLO coach Avram Grant says his technical bench will do everything possible to ensure that the team prepares adequately for the delayed 2023 Africa Cup of Nations slated for next year in Ivory Coast.
After regrouping on Wednesday, the Chipolopolo had their second session yesterday under extreme weather conditions characterised with heavy rains at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
The Chipolopolo, who will compete in Group F at the AFCON alongside Congo DR, Tanzania and Morocco will fly to Saudi Arabia on January 1 for an international camp to intensify preparations.
While in Saudi Arabia, Zambia will engage in two international friendly matches against Cameroon and another team yet to be identified.
Grant who had earlier named a 55-member squad said he will use the two friendly games to test players who will represent Zambia at the AFCON.
The gaffer who trimmed the squad to a list of 31 before the team regrouped in Lusaka said he was compelled to name a 55-member provisional squad by CAF, a situation he didn’t agree with.
Grant insisted that players who will show quality, desire and dedication are the ones who will be selected to take Zambia forward as the Chipolopolo returns to the AFCON after missing the last three editions.
Asked about his targets at the AFCON, Grant said; “I don’t like to put targets because we need to be reasonable. We are three in our group meaning there are two teams which are better than us and they are better than us on paper but also Ivory Coast was better than us and I want these things to stay on paper.”
Grant noted the need for Zambians to be realistic and realise that we are not at the top yet.
However, Grant said the technical bench is doing everything possible to ensure that the team is prepared well for the AFCON.
“We need to be very realistic. You need to see the players we have and the teams we will face. We are not on top at the moment but it is our target to do everything possible on the pitch and off the pitch to be top. There are some issues we need to solve on the pitch and off the pitch to be a better side,” Grant said.
At the 34th edition of the continental championship which will run from January 13 to February 11, 2024, Zambia will compete in Group F alongside Congo DR, Morocco, and Tanzania.
The Chipolopolo will kick off their AFCON campaign with a match against Ivory Coast on January 17 before facing Tanzania four days later.
The Chipolopolo who will then conclude their group F matches with a game against Morocco on January 24.