DEFENDING champions Zambia today join the skirmishes of the 2015 COSAFA Senior Challenge tournament seeking to defend the title won two years ago when they take on the ‘Brave’ Warriors of Namibia in the quarterfinals at Moruleng Stadium.
Pressure will be on the Chipolopolo to reproduce the 2013 outstanding display that won them the fourth COSAFA title to be at par with Zimbabwe and also claim their fifth title.
Zambia was on bye from the group stages together with hosts South Africa, Botswana and the tournament guests Ghana in the tournament that being beamed live on SuperSport channels four and nine.
Coach Honour Janza has vowed to maintain Zambia’s good record in the tournament by retaining the title, his first at the helm of the national team.
“It’s a well known fact that as champions, everyone would want to beat us but we want to retain the title and keep the good record. The pressure for me tomorrow (today) is to win the match and progress to the next round,” Janza said.
Zambia eluded Namibia of the COSAFA title when the two sides met in the final of the 1997 edition and the Warriors booked a grudge match against the Chipolopolo after seeing off a highly fancied Zimbabwean side in Group A.
With the 2013 losing finalists, Zimbabwe already out of the competition, the Chipolopolo will be hoping to get their pursuit for a record fifth COSAFA Cup title here off to a positive start.
Besides winning the competition on four occasions in 1997, 1998, 2006 and 2013, Zambia have also finished runners-up four times in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010, more than any other nation while Namibia have appeared in two previous tournament finals and are yet to lift the trophy.
On paper, the Chipolopolo are favourites to win this particular encounter having lost only five matches in their 42 appearances in the COSAFA tournament, winning 23 and drawn 15 while Namibia have picked up only 10 wins, 12 draws and 13 defeats in 35 appearances.
However, Janza said yesterday that his side will not underrate the Brave Warriors because they had something to play for having lost to Zambia in the final of the inaugural tournament.
“We will not rely on past glory but we will take our opponents seriously. Namibia has a good side and good players, we will respect them,” he said.
South Africa-based goal minder Kennedy Mweene is expected to be in goal while Khondwani Mtonga and Christopher Munthali will marshal the defense with Nathan Sinkala, Mukuka Mulenga in the midfield.
Bornwell Mwape could lead the attack together with under-17 wunderkind Patrick Ngoma but Janza has options of Zesco pair of Jackson Mwanza and Winston Kalengo in that role.
Namibia tactician, Ricardo Mannetti will be looking forward for the trio of Deon Hotto, Chris Katijukua and Sadney Urikhob, who produced outstanding performances in the 4-1 thrashing of Zimbabwe, could be equal to the task against Zambia.
Manneti is likely to maintain his winning eleven that sees Virgil Vries in goal, Denzil Haoseb, Willem Mwedihanga, Chris Katjiukua, Ananias Gebhardt and Peter Shalulile.
Others likely to be in the starting line up are Ronald Ketjijere, Petrus Shitembi, Hotto, Itamunua Keimuine and Wangu Gome.
The other quarter-final fixture pits hosts South Africa against neighbouring Botswana in a late kickoff at the same venue.