UNDER-23 national team coach Fighton Simukonda says his charges will end the west African dominance over Zambia when they face Ivory Coast in Saturday’s Africa Under-23 Championship second round return leg.
And South Africa-based midfielder Mukuka Mulenga is confident Zambia will beat Ivory Coast at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka.
Simukonda said in an interview after a morning training session at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka yesterday that losing to west African teams will come to an end on Saturday.
Zambia lost 2-1 to Nigeria in the 2015 Congo Brazzaville All-Africa Games qualifier in Lusaka in April this year.
“We need to end this thing of losing to west Africans. We are going to attack and get goals,” Simukonda said.
He, however, said the team will attack with caution.
Simukonda said the team is complete following the arrival of Mukuka, who plies his trade for Mamelodi Sundowns, and Ronald Kampamba of Egyptian side Wadi Degla.
“We are now okay. We have to go forward and score, we just have to psych the players so that they withstand pressure from the home fans,” he said.
Simukonda believes his players are good enough to beat Ivory Coast and stay on course for a place at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
The first leg on July 18 ended goalless in Abidjan and Zambia need victory while a scoring draw will be enough for the Ivorians to qualify for the tournament in Senegal.
And Mukuka is confident Zambia will eliminate the Ivorians.
“We have to make sure we beat them. The team is okay and you can see how the guys are pushing,” he said.
Mukuka said it has been long since Zambia featured at the Olympic Games and the team is aiming to qualify for the Senegal finals and eventually for the Brazil showpiece.
Zambia last qualified for the football tournament at the Olympic Games in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, where the Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu-drilled side reached the quarter-finals.
“Competition is high in the team. The guys are working hard and this time we will not allow what happened when we played Nigeria when we drew away and lost at home,” Mukuka said.
Meanwhile, Israel-based defender Emmanuel Mbola has been ruled out of the match.
Football Association of Zambia communications manager Nkweto Tembwe said in Lusaka yesterday that Mbola’s team Hapoel Ra’anan have some engagements and will not release the defender because the game is not on a FIFA day.
The Ivorians are expected in Lusaka today.