ZAMBIA’S preparations for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hit the peak this weekend when the Chipolopolo shifts camp to South Africa for an extensive final tune-up before heading to Equatorial Guinea next month.
As the team moves to Johannesburg today, English Premiership side, Southampton gave coach Honour Janza a befitting Christmas gift by releasing striker Emmanuel Mayuka early to join the Chipolopolo training camp.
Janza paid tribute to Southampton coach Ronald Koeman and club management for allowing Mayuka to join the squad early, saying this would avail the 2012 AFCON golden-boot winner enough time to gel with the other players in camp.
“This is a plus for us. We need him to gel as quickly as possible since as you’re aware we will be facing South Africa in a friendly on January 4. I would like to thank the coach and management at Southampton for this good gesture,” he said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday.
Janza said he was hopeful that other clubs would also release Zambian players early to enable the technical bench adequate time to prepare the squad for the continental showpiece.
He said the South African legion of Chipolopolo players were expected to join the Milpark training camp once the squad jets into Johannesburg.
Janza said only the Israel-based duo of striker Evans Kangwa and defender Emmanuel Mbola would join the squad at least 14 days before the AFCON kicks off in Equatorial Guinea due to club commitments.
The Chipolopolo trainer, however, was happy that the bulk of the players summoned for the pre-AFCON camping were already in.
He advised the players called to camp to put Zambia first and fight for national pride.
Janza said as they battle for the 23 final slots for the AFCON, the players need to remain disciplined and focused.
For them to deliver according to Zambians’ expectations, the Chipolopolo coach said the players should have self-belief and confidence in their abilities.
On the friendly against South Africa, Janza said the match set for Orlando Stadium on January 4 would give the technical bench an insight of which players would be ready for the Equatorial Guinea assignments.
He said the preparatory match against Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba’s Bafana Bafana would help in determining the 23 players for the AFCON finals.
Janza believes that Bafana Bafana would give the Chipolopolo the best test before Africa’s premium football showpiece kicks off on January 17.
On Tuesday, Janza named a 27-man AFCON provisional squad consisting of youth and experience.
He included 12 players from the 2013 AFCON squad in South Africa and another 11 from the 2012 winning squad.
Zambia is placed in Group B along with Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia and Cape Verde.
Goalkeepers – Kennedy Mweene (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Danny Munyau (Red Arrows), Toaster Nsabata (Nchanga Rangers), Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos)
Defenders – Stoppila Sunzu (Sochaux, France), Bronson Chama (Red Arrows), Donashano Malama (Nkana), Aaron Katebe (FC Platinum, Zimbabwe), Christopher Munthali (Nkana), Emmanuel Mbola (Hapoel Ra’anana, Israel), Davies Nkausu (Bloemfontein Celtic, South Africa), Rodrick Kabwe (Zanaco)
Midfielders – Nathan Sinkala (Grasshoppers, Switzerland), Chisamba Lungu (FC Ural, Russia), Mukuka Mulenga (Bloemfontein Celtic, South Africa), Kondwani Mtonga (North East United, India), Spencer Sautu (Green Eagles), Rainford Kalaba (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Bruce Musakanya (Red Arrows), Lubambo Musonda (FC Ulisses, Armenia)
Strikers – Emmanuel Mayuka (Southampton, England), Given Singuluma (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Ronald ‘Sate Sate’ Kampamba (Nkana), Evans Kangwa (Hapoel Ra’anana, Isreal), Patrick Ngoma (Red Arrows), Jackson Mwanza (Zesco United), James Chamanga (Liaoning Whowin, China)
Times of Zambia