THE Under-23 national team has suffered a blow with sensational midfielder Lubambo Musonda being ruled out of tomorrow’s Group A U-23 Africa Cup opening fixture against Tunisia due to club commitments.
Musonda, who plays for Gandzasar Kapan in Armenia, is one of the four foreign-based players coach Fighton Simukonda is relying on for glory, but will have to do without him in the first match.
Gandzasar refused to release Musonda for tomorrow’s game as he is needed to play a big role in their crucial tie against fifth placed Shirak on Sunday.
Gandzasar is third on the table with 22 points while Shirak has 21.
Musonda will only be released after the game on Sunday, making him only available for Zambia’s second group game against South Africa on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Simukonda said striker Ronald Kampamba was expected to join camp today to complete the team.
He said everything was in place and the team was geared to face Tunisia.
He, however, expressed concern on the height advantage the North Africans carry against his team, adding that Zambia needed to be wary of setpieces.
“We are almost ready for them. It’s good that they are treating us as underdogs. When it comes to height, they have players who have height. You could tell that they are good at free kicks and corners so we are going on those lines. We want to collect three points, a draw will be a plus but we are going for a win,” he said.
Simukonda said the focus was to break Zambia’ 28-year wait to qualify to the Olympics by finishing among the top three in Senegal.
The junior Chipolopolo will conclude their group games with a tie against hosts Senegal next Friday.
Group B consists of Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Mali.
The top three winners at this tournament qualify to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, SuperSport has announced that it will televise live the CAF Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
According to SuperSport marketing manager southern Africa Marlon Kananda, the pay television channel had acquired rights to broadcast the tournament which begins tomorrow.