ZAMBIA yesterday began training for the decisive Africa Cup of Nations Group C match against Burkina Faso without defenders Stopilla Sunzu and Joseph Musonda.
The two sat out of yesterday’s training as a “precautionary measure” against knocks they suffered in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Nigeria.
Deputy delegation leader Pivoty Simwanza said the team is seriously readying itself for Tuesday’s clash against Burkina Faso.
He said all is well in camp and everyone is fully aware of the magnitude of the upcoming match.
“We have to win this match to qualify for the quarter-finals,” he said.
After two group matches each, Burkina Faso top the table on four points and only need a draw against Zambia to earn a quarter-final berth.
Zambia and Nigeria have two points each with Ethiopia at the bottom with one point.
The Burkinabe coach Paul Put is also leaving nothing to chance as he too took his time out for training yesterday.
The team is buoyed by their emphatic 4-0 bashing of the Ethiopians on Friday.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s players are unfazed by failure to win their two opening Group C matches of the Africa Cup of Nations.
They believe they have what it takes to beat Burkina Faso on Tuesday in the decisive Group match and march on into the quarter-finals.
Team captain Christopher Katongo said in an interview that Zambia will settle for nothing but full three points in the clash with Burkina Faso.
“We will do our best to get the full points in the last game against Burkina Faso and that will give us five points which will be enough for us to qualify for the quarter-finals. There is nothing like removing any points, we have to take all three,” Katongo said after Friday’s 1-1 draw with Nigeria.
He said the players know what is at stake and they will fight like champions to advance to the group of eight.
Katongo said Zambia played well against Nigeria but was impeded by the poor state of the pitch.
He said Zambia dominated the first half by taking advantage of the Nigerian’s lack of pace but was unfortunate not to score.
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene said the team is aware that all teams want to have the distinction of beating Zambia as the champions but assured that the Chipolopolo are ready for any opposition.
“We expect pressure from all teams because they know they are playing champions, but we will come out guns blazing (against Burkina Faso),” he said.
Mweene said Zambia played better in the game against Nigeria than against Ethiopia in a tie that also ended 1-1 and hopes that the momentum will continue going into the last group match.
Striker Emmanuel Mayuka said Zambia is under no pressure in the quest for a quarter-final place.
“It is just people who are talking about pressure but us we are taking it easy. Just a game at a time,” he said.
Mayuka, who attracted a foul on him that earned Zambia the penalty against Nigeria, said he is hopeful Zambia will progress in the tournament.
“In football you just have to be positive. I believe we will get the result we need against Burkina Faso. We just have to win,” he said.
Meanwhile, STEPHEN PHIRI reports that Minister of Sports and Youth Chishimba Kambwili is confident the Chipolopolo will qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.
In an interview on Friday night, Kambwili said the Chipolopolo will teach Burkina Faso a lesson when they clash at Mbombela Stadium on Tuesday.
“I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Zambia will beat Burkina Faso and qualify for the quarter-finals. We are the champions and we need to defend our title,” he said.
Kambwili said the Chipolopolo could have beaten Nigeria had they been responsible in front of goal.
“We played well in the first half and created several scoring opportunities but I do not know what happened after the break. Thank God the players did not give up and got the equaliser,” he said.
Kambwili urged the nation to continue supporting the team.