FOOTBALL Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya is optimistic the Chipolopolo will qualify for the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“The Zambia we saw in the second half is capable of qualifying for the Africa Cup finals,” said Kalusha in an interview at Ndola’s Levy Mwanawasa Stadium after the Chipolopolo settled for a goalless draw with Guinea Bissau on Saturday.
He said Zambia could qualify for the showpiece with 12 points.
“We have a game plan,” said Kalusha, who was flanked by FAZ general secretary George Kasengele and executive committee member Pivoty Simwanza.
He said the Chipolopolo took the game to the visitors in the second half but could not put the ball into the net.
“It was game of few chances and we had good urgency in the second half,” Kalusha said.
He said the West Africans frustrated Zambia after parking the bus.
“Guinea Bissau came here to sit back and played good football and they surprised us with their resistance,” Kalusha said.
He said the Chipolopolo know what is at stake ahead of the clash against Kenya in Nairobi on September 5 this year.
Meanwhile, national team skipper Rainford Kalaba has called for patience and unity from Zambians as the Chipolopolo strategise on the way forward.
“This is not the end of the road. The journey to the 2017 Africa Cup is still on. We need patience and unity. We still have a long way to go,” said Kalaba, who campaigns for Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe.
He called for hard work ahead of the match against Kenya.
Zambia coach George Lwandamina defended his move to include teenage striker Patson Daka in the starting lineup.
“Patson is a striker. He has done well at youth level. All what we need is to encourage the boy. He has what it takes to be a striker. They [Guinea Bissau] were very huge at the back and he happened to be the only one with height so we had to play him.
“The other strikers at our disposal were coming from injuries. They haven’t played competitive games but Patson has been playing actively. That is why we included him in the team,” Lwandamina said.
He also said it would have been an injustice to the country to sideline players that worked with former Chipolopolo coach Honour Janza.
Guinea Bissau coach Paulo Torres said Zambia and other teams in Group E should brace for defeats when they travel to the West African country.
“We made five flight stoppages before we arrived in Zambia and the result is fair. We are determined to win all our home matches. We will be enjoying the support of 50,000 fans at home,” Torres said.
Zambia Development Conference president Langton Sichone said Lwandamina got his tactics wrong by leaving on the bench midfielders Chisamba Lungu and Fwayo Tembo and striker Ronald Kampamba.
Chisamba and Fwayo replaced Given Singuluma and Daka respectively.
Zambia Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo said drawing with Guinea Bissau is disappointing.