Zambia: Zambia Under-20 Men’s National Team coach Chisi Mbewe says the 3-0 win over South Sudan in a friendly match was a good boost to the squad as it prepares for the AFCON.
Speaking to the FAZ Media Team after Zambia saw off South Sudan in a pre-tournament in Ismailia on Monday night, Mbewe says his bench will now focus on fine-tuning the squad ahead of the TotalEnergies U20 AFCON Egypt 2023 that kicks off on Sunday.
Goals from Rickson Ng’ambi, Julius Kumwenda and Kingston Mutandwa sealed a second-half masterclass to wind up preparatory matches on a high.
Zambia opened its preparatory campaigns with a 4-2 loss to Nigeria in Abuja before falling 1-0 to Senegal in Thies. The match against South Sudan marks the end of international friendly games for the junior Chipolopolo as they focus on fine-tuning their squad.
FAZ organized a lengthy camp for the under-20 lads to ensure quality preparations, with the team landing in Egypt 10 days before the tournament kicked off.
“Now we are set, we are ready for the AFCON, we just need to polish up in the remaining few days in some areas; we feel we did not do well, so that come February 21, the team will be ready,” says Mbewe.
“We have got the view (picture) of what we expect (at the tournament). We played two West African sides that have helped us see what to expect at the tournament,” says Mbewe.
The soft-spoken gaffer says the team will now focus on polishing up their act for the tournament.
“I am happy, but we need to improve in certain areas going forward, we have to be ready for the tournament. I am happy for those who came in, and they brought in stability to push the team up. That is the reason we scored three goals,” he says.
Mbewe says his lads responded well after a drab first half that ended scoreless to rack three goals in the second half.
“The first 45 minutes of the game were a bit difficult; we did not make a lot of runs going up front. I think we were too much in a hurry wanting to score goals which resulted in us making unnecessary mistakes,” he says.
He adds: “The boys showed a lot of character, fighting spirit and focus. I think this is the game that the boys were looking forward to after those two defeats from Nigeria and Senegal. They did not feel well, they wanted this victory so much, and it paid off. We are even happy as the technical staff as it even brings more confidence in the players going into the tournament.”
Zambia will wind down their stay in Ismailia and settle at their tournament venue in Alexandria. The junior Chipolopolo opened their Group B account on February 21 against Benin before tackling The Gambia three days and winding up with Tunisia on February 27.
All matches will be live on SuperSport.
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