CHIPOLOPOLO captain Rainford Kalaba has been ruled out of this Sunday’s key international friendly match against Egypt to be played in Abu Dhabi.
Kalaba, who helped TP Mazembe reach the CAF Champions League final at the weekend, is said to have lost a grandfather in his Mufulira hometown and explained his predicament to head coach George Lwandamina.
The Chipolopolo squad was last night expected to fly out for the high-profile friendly, a day before the initially expected departure.
Lwandamina confirmed Kalaba’s absence in an interview yesterday stating that the skipper walked into camp to explain his problem before he was given permission to miss the game.
“Kalaba will not be travelling with us. He was excused after he came to personally see me and told me of a funeral. We have since excused him and we are psychologically ready to face Egypt without him,” he said.
The excusing of Kalaba means that Lwandamina is without five of the players he had initially called for camp after four from Power Dynamos opted to stay at the club and prepare for the league match which they lost 3-0 against Zesco United.
The four are defender Christopher Munthali, midfielders Benson Sakala, Kennedy Mudenda and Larry Bwalya.
This left Lwandamina with no need to drop a player as the squad flew out to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the friendly which FAZ is using to prepare the team for fights on three fronts.
FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya, who watched the team’s afternoon training at the Heroes National Stadium, told the players to take the friendly game against Egypt seriously as such high profile games do not easily come by.
Kalusha said it was an honour to get to play Egypt but that more importantly the players need to keep their eyes on the three upcoming qualifiers that Zambia will be involved in and need to win.
“You need to keep focus, this is an important friendly but we have three tough matches coming on three fronts which are the CHAN (Africa Nations Championship), Under-23 tournament and World Cup qualifiers.
“We should make sure we are ready for all these games coming up and let’s do well against Egypt and represent Zambia well,” said the 1988 African footballer of the year.
He told the players that the Egypt game will be tough as the Egyptians would come wounded after their top clubs Zamalek and Al Ahly both faltered at continental level.
“This will be the same against Sudan (on November 11), as the Sudanese clubs also lost at continental level so they will come wounded. So that is why we need to make sure we are at our best and get the best out of such friendlies,” he said.
He said he was impressed with the hard work the players were showing at club level naming Collins Mbesuma, Chisamba Lungu and Spenser Sautu among others.