ZAMBIA today will seek to bounce back from a disappointing start to the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations when they take on Kenya in a Group E qualifier at Nyayo National Stadium.
Chipolopolo started the campaign with a barren home draw with Guinea Bissau while Kenya held Congo Brazzaville to a 1-1 draw in Brazzaville.
Kenya lead Group E with one point at par with the others but Harambee Stars have a better goal aggregate.
Coach George Lwandamina will be itching for an away victory to enhance Zambia’s chances of qualifying for the continent’s showpiece.
Zambia boast of 17 AfCON appearances while Harambee Stars last qualified to the continental event in 2004.
Chipolopolo will hope to replicate the 2-0 victory over Kenya at the 2009 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Nairobi.
Striker James Chamanga and defender Stopilla Sunzu were on target for the then Herve Renard-led Chipolopolo.
The encounter will be a fierce battle as the home side wants to avenge the defeat and also consolidate the lead.
Zambia, on the other side, will be aiming at maintaining their dominance over the East Africans.
The teams have met 32 times since 1964 – Zambia winning 22, drawing six and losing six.
Chipolopolo boasts of an impressive pedigree but that does not guarantee a relaxed approach to the game as Kenya have improved over the last few years.
Chipolopolo coach George Lwandamina has targeted maximum points.
“We have been working tirelessly and we have travelled to Kenya to collect a positive result. Our ultimate goal is to get maximum points from this game. That will give us impetus going forward. We cannot afford to lose,” Lwandamina said.
But former Kenya skipper Dennis Oliech, who is back in the squad, believes Harambee Stars are good enough to cause an upset.
“I normally do what I’m supposed to do; and that is to score goals. It doesn’t matter whether it will be me or my striking partner, or any other player, but the most important thing is to win,” he said.
Lwandamina will be without strikers Jacob Mulenga, Evans Kangwa and defender Emmanuel Mbola, who shunned the call-ups.
Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene will again get the nod ahead of Danny Munyao.
Lwandamina is likely to partner Sunzu with Aaron Katebe in central defence and the duo of Benedict Chepeshi and Donashano Malama will be on the flanks.
Nathan Sinkala and Kondwani Mtonga will anchor the midfield alongside skipper Rainford Kalaba and Chisamba Lungu.
Winston Kalengo will partner Collins Mbesuma upfront while Jackson Mwanza and Friday Samu are options in attack.
Williamson will count on Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama and Oliech for goals.
Others expected to cause problems for the 2012 African champions are Johanna Omollo of Belgium outfit Royal Antwerp, David Owino (Zesco) and Nkana forward Jacob Keli.
In the other Group E match, Guinea Bissau host Congo- Brazzaville.