COSAFA Cup: Defending Champions Zambia to face Malawi

Zambia: DEFENDING champions Zambia start their Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup title defence this evening when they face off with the Flames of Malawi in a Group B clash at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban.

Zambia: DEFENDING champions Zambia start their Hollywooders COSAFA Cup title defence this evening when they face off with the Flames of Malawi in a Group B clash at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban.

Zambia is gunning for an unprecedented seventh COSAFA Cup title at their lucky home away from home in Durban, where they won their last two regional titles in 2019 and 2022.

However, one would have to go back 25 years to see the last time Zambia won back-to-back COSAFA Cup titles. To end that long drought, coach Moses Sichone assembled a blend of junior and time-tested players led by COSAFA skipper Benedict Chepeshi and midfielder 2022 Cosafa Player of the Tournament Kelvin Kampamba.

Zambia Coach Avram Grant would keep an eye on the proceedings of the Cosafa as they are using the tournament to prepare for the African Nations Championships (CHAN) that kicks off at the month-end.

But headlining the 23-member team is Power Dynamos goalkeeper Lawrence Mulenga who was Chipolopolo’s outstanding player during last month’s 2023 AFCON Group H qualifier against Ivory Coast, where they won 3-0 at home in Ndola.

Sichone has rallied his boys to make a strong statement on their intentions to defend the COSAFA title.

“I am happy with the players; they look good and are focused on the game against Malawi. It’s not an easy game, Malawi will come and try to prove a point, but the most important thing is for us to be focused and get a positive result. The opening game of a tournament is always crucial, so we have to do our homework and hope the boys do what we have been doing tactically and be focused on delivering a victory for Mother Zambia,” Sichone said.

“In every game, you need to set goals, and I expect every player to show commitment, to be aggressive with the ball or without. We need to be organised on the pitch on how we shall defend and attack. Pressure will always be there in every game, but we need to go on the pitch bubbling with confidence and not forget that positive results are difficult to get. We need to work hard for them”.

Zambia will look to players Kelvin Kampamba, Joshua Mutale, Abraham Siankombo, Golden Mashata, Albert Kangwanda, Harry Milanzi Jnr, Andrew Phiri, and Moyela Libamba to spark shots in front of the goal and seal victory against Malawi.

Sichone will start Mulenga between the sticks, while Aaron Katebe, Benedict Chepeshi, Mathews Chabala, and Pride Mwansa will complete the back four.

Kelvin Kapumbu, Oliver Lumbiya, and Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba are expected to provide cover to the defenders and ensure a smooth transition into the attack, while Joshua Mutale, Albert Kangwanda, and Andrew Phiri are expected to lead the attack.

Zambia is in Group B, and after this game, they face Comoros on Sunday and will conclude their group fixtures with a tie against Seychelles on Tuesday.