INJURY-RAVAGED Zambia will today be seeking the first win at the 2013 GOtv CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya when the Chipolopolo developmental squad clash with surprise Group B leaders, Burundi.
After drawing the opening match 1-1 against Tanzania on a waterlogged pitch in Machakos, Zambia will be all out in search for a win and brighten the chances of reaching the quarter-final stage.
Coach Patrice Beaumelle is also desperate to get his first victory since taking over the Chipolopolo top job in October after compatriot, Herve Renard departed back to his native France.
Zambia has not won an international match since August 3 when the developmental squad beat Botswana 2-0 in an African Nations Championship qualifier in Ndola.
But Beaumelle’s obsession to win was dealt a blow following injuries to three of his key players during the Tanzania match.
Zambia’s 2012 Africa Cup winning midfielder, Felix Katongo, defender, Jimmy Chisenga and defensive midfielder, Kondwani Mtonga all picked up injuries on the soggy Kenyatta Stadium pitch.
The trio are doubt starters for Beaumelle this afternoon at the Nyayo National Stadium in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Despite the injury setback, pressure will still be on Beaumelle and his men to do well if Zambia is to remain in contention at the regional tournament where the Chipolopolo are guests.
After that tough experience on a muddy pitch on Thursday, the Zambians are expected to have recovered and ready to face the Burundi challenge.
Beaumelle conceded that the players needed a lot of massage after the boggy pitch experience which took a physical toll on the Zambians.
He, however, said Zambia had no choice but to beat Burundi and move forward in the competition.
“It is always tough to play the CECAFA; we will see what happens after three game. We have to recover because this pitch was demanding, we need a lot of massage. We have to prepare ourselves for the next game against Burundi; they won, they have three points, they are leading the group. We have to beat them to move on,”Beaumelle said after the Tanzania match.
But Burundi coach, Lofty Mohamed, who masterminded a 2-0 win over Somalia on Thursday, is hoping to claim his biggest victory by beating Zambia, the 2012 African champions.
While only two members – Katongo and goalkeeper Joshua Titima – of the Chipolopolo squad that lifted the continental trophy last year are available at the CECAFA, Mohamed will be satisfied just to beat Zambia.
To avoid the possible embarrassment at the hands of the minnows, Beaumelle will be hoping his charges come to the party today and silence the critics.
Nkana talisman, Ronald ‘Sate Sate’ Kampamba, who scored against the Taifa Stars, is expected to lead the Zambian attack alongside his clubmate and striking partner, Festus Mbewe, who was rather wasteful in the Thursday match.
With Mtonga, Katongo and Chisenga doubtful, Beaumelle will need to rejig his starting line-up and find suitable replacements to face Burundi’s Swallows, who have never in their footballing history qualified to the African Cup of Nations.
Skipper Bronson Chama and Christopher Munthali are expected to marshal the defence and give adequate cover to goalkeeper, Toaster Nsabata, who acquainted himself well on his first international assignment on Thursday.
In midfield, Sydney Kalume, Rodrick Kabwe and Stanley Nshimbi are expected to orchestrate player for the twin strikers.
As for Mohamed, he will be looking for another good performance from Christophe Nduwarugira and Abdul Fiston Razak, the scorers in their first match against Somalia.
After the Burundi tie, Zambia will wrap up the Group B skirmishes against Somalia on Wednesday.
Probable line-up: Toaster Nsabata, Kabaso Chongo, Rodrick Kabwe, Christopher Munthali, Bronson Chama, Salulani Phiri, Stanley Nshimbi, Sydney Kalume, Alex Ng’onga, Festus Mbewe, Ronald Kampamba.