Zambia: Israel-based Richard ‘Kasuli’ Ngoma has been ruled out of the U20 AFCON after sustaining a shoulder injury during his side Maccabi Netanya’s U19 league match on Saturday. Ngoma, who had been named in Chisi Mbewe’s 21-man final squad, was due to join the Zambian camp in Alexandria on Sunday but could not make it after being withdrawn in the 62nd minute of his club’s match.
Team Doctor Aaron Munkondya says Ngoma joins Joseph Sabobo Banda on the list of absentees, with the technical bench roping in Moses Mulenga as one of the replacements.
“With Richard, it is very unfortunate that he is not going to be part of this tournament because he got injured whilst playing his last game before joining camp. The Doctors in Israel are doing everything possible to make sure that he receives the best treatment,” Munkondya says.
“The general picture is that most of the players are fit for the tournament apart from Sabobo, who has been dropped because of an injury that he is nursing, so we are going to send him to a medical team in Zambia that is going to continue looking after him, and he is going to receive physiotherapy as he recovers there in Zambia. Most of the players are fit and can’t wait for the tournament to start.”
With the absence of Ngoma, Spain-based Peter Chikola will be the only foreign-based player in the Zambian squad.
The inclusion of foreign-based players has been complicated by the U20 AFCON being played outside the FIFA window, which does not oblige clubs to release players for the competition. Zambia starts its AFCON journey tomorrow (Tuesday) with a match against Benin which kicks off at 19:00 hours (Zambian Time) and will be broadcast on SuperSport.
The next Group C match will be on Friday against The Gambia before facing Tunisia on February 27 in Cairo.
The top two teams will qualify for the quarterfinals, while the bigger task will be a semi-final berth that guarantees qualification for the FIFA World Cup in Indonesia.