Zambia kickoff their Cosafa Castle Cup defence on Sunday when they face Namibia at Moruleng Stadium.
Chipolopolo are looking to clinch an unprecedented fifth Cosafa Cup crown this year and are also bidding to win back-to-back titles for the first time since doing so in 1997 and 1998.
They face a Namibia side that has come into the competition in red-hot form.
Namibia are unbeaten in the competition with three wins that they capped on May 21 by blowing away four-time champions Zimbabwe 4-1 in both sides’ Group A decider to secure that lone quarterfinal place from their pool.
Zambia on the other hand will be playing their first game in this year’s tournament after enjoying a preliminary round bye.
“There is no weak team. Namibia is a very strong side and we are not going to underrate them. They convincingly beat Zimbabwe,” Zambia coach Honour Janza said.
Janza’s desire to retain the trophy is evident in his team selection that includes over eleven of his elite players.
First-choice goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, defender Emmanuel Mbola, midfielders Nathan Sinkala, Mukuka Mulenga and Kondwani Mtonga have all made the trip to South Africa.
Meanwhile, the match will be the two sides’ fourth Cosafa Cup meeting since the tournament began in 1997.
Zambia have a slight edge over Namibia in the Cosafa Cup with one win and two draws.
That lone victory came at the quarterfinal stage of the 2009 edition held in Zimbabwe when Chipolopolo eventually lost to the hosts’ 3-1 in the final.
Winner on Sunday will in the May 28 semifinals take on victor of Monday’s quarterfinal involving Ghana who await preliminary round outcome from Group B in the Madagascar Swaziland match-up.
The loser will be relegated to the Plate semifinal after the rugby-style tournament knock-out stage concept was adopted by Cosafa at the 2013 tournament in Zambia.