THE Zambia Under-17 football team yesterday left for Italy with coach Chris Kaunda saying his charges were not scared of facing the likes of Brazil at a high profiled 16-nations championship dubbed âTournament Delle Nazionâ.
Kaunda said during a media briefing at the Football House in Lusaka before departure that his players were not scared playing big names likes Brazil or Italy.
He boosted that his players will not be shivering at the prospect of playing the likes of Italy or Brazil because the lads would not be playing names but fellow players.
âWe are not playing a country but a team of players who have no idea of the Zambian system of play. I donât think my players will have shivers but will instead make most of the opportunity,â he said.
Kaunda said the players, mostly who took part in the Airtel Rising Stars (ARS) competition held in Nigeria last year, were fitting in well in the team and were steadily developing owing also to the exposure they were getting by playing for big Zambian league teams.
âI think the boys have done well since their participation at last year tournament in Nigeria. Look at Paston Daka, he is now playing for Nchanga Rangers and this goes to show how steadily these players are progressing in their careers and this tournament will greatly help them get the exposure needed,â he said.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) executive committee member Lee Kawanu said most of the players that were picked for the Italy outing were likely to make the team that will play in the 2017 Africa Youth Championship to be hosted by Zambia.
âOur road map is to ensure that the boys are kept fit through constant camping and expose them to friendly games. They have so far played with the Under-20 national team and even managed to beat them,â he said.
FAZ communications manager Nkweto Tembwe thanked Airtel Zambia for donating 25 pairs of football boots worth K12, 500.
Zambia begins her campaign tomorrow against Israel before playing Italy the following day.
The semi-finals are set for April 29 with Group A winner playing Group B winner while Group C winner will face the best second-placed qualifier for a place in the May 1 final.
Meanwhile, the six ARS stars will represent Zambia at a training camp in Kigali, Rwanda that will run from April 28 to May 2 to be conducted by Arsenal coaches- Rupen Shah and Nathan Asan.
Zambia will be represented by three boys Alex Sikombe (Mungwi), Twiza Siwakwi Chaibela (Lusaka), Salati Lungu (Lusaka) and three girls Elina Nyirenda (Lusaka) Jackline Nkole (Kitwe) and Theresa Chewe (Lusaka).
While in Rwanda, the players are expected to learn the basics of football and it will create greater interaction and opportunities for social development through grassroots football.