INJURIES have rocked the national team preparing for Saturday’s decisive 2016 Rwanda African Nations Championship (CHAN) first round return leg against Namibia with four players ruled out while defender Christopher Munthali is doubtful.
Coach George Lwandamina has since summoned Red Arrows striker Festus Mbewe, midfielders Seth Sakala from Napsa Stars and Mufulira Wanderers’ Jacob Ngulube.
The quartet ruled out is defender Boyd Mkandawire, midfielders Justin Zulu, and Shadreck Malambo and forward Jimmy Ndhlovu while Allan Mukuka is also doubtful.
Ndhlovu reported to camp but sat out of training while Munthali did light training as Mukuka watched his colleagues from the terraces.
Team doctor Joseph Kabungo said in an interview after the morning training session at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka yesterday that Zulu is nursing an ankle injury which will take a minimum of 10 days to heal.
On Ndhlovu, Kabungo explained that the Power Dynamos forward suffered a knee ligament during a Super Division Week 15 match against Forest Rangers last Saturday while his teammate Munthali who has pain in his right groin is still being assessed.
“We had an initial assessment on Munthali last evening (Monday) and he had light training this morning (yesterday). We are yet to make a decision because we are still assessing him. But for Jimmy we thought it would be in the best interest of the player to rule him out of the game,” he said.
Kabungo explained that Mukuka missed Green Buffaloes’ 2-0 win over National Assembly last Saturday due to illness.
“Physically he is okay but the medical condition allows that we investigate further before we could allow him to start training. We still have some grey areas on him that’s why we are doing other investigations,” he said
And team manager Lusekelo Kamwambi said players summoned are already in camp.
Zambia lost 1-2 to Namibia in Windhoek and need a 1-0 victory in Lusaka to progress to the last round.
Meanwhile, former Zanaco coach Mike ‘Ferguson’ Sithole has urged the Chipolopolo technical bench against rushing young players into the national team, ALEX NJOVU reports.
Sithole said in Lusaka on Monday that the Chipolopolo may struggle to qualify for the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations if the technical bench continues ignoring experienced players.
Zambia battled to a goalless draw with Guinea Bissau in Ndola on June 13 while Congo Brazzaville and Kenya settled for a 1-1 draw leaving all the four teams in Group E with a point apiece.
“Experience is important in football, when things get tough on the pitch, young players usually run out of steam and they get intimidated. The pressure becomes too much on the pitch that is when experience counts. You need experienced legs and brains to motivate young players,” said Sithole, who guided Botswana side Mochudi Centre Chiefs to league glory in the 2014-15 season.
He said some players that won the Africa Cup in 2012 should not be ignored.
On Monday, Chipolopolo midfielder Chisamba Lungu urged the technical bench to use experienced players if the performance of the 2012 African champions is to improve.
Sithole, a former Zamsure and Kabwe Warriors mentor, also said soccer standards have gone down and there is need for various stakeholders to work together to arrest the situation.