International Friendly 5.30 pm
Zambia vs Uganda – Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola
Uganda Cranes will renew their rivalry with Zambia’s Chipolopolo today in an international friendly at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola at 5.30 PM.
Uganda have only beaten the Chipolopolo in Zambia (in a Cecafa group game) once in six attempts, with the other five ending in defeats. In their last meeting, Zambia needed to win on penalties at the Mandela National Stadium to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. The Cranes had won 1-0, just like the Chipolopolo had picked a similar score in Ndola in the first leg.
But the friendly on Wednesday will not have much at stake, but simply more of each team fighting for bragging rights.
It will be the first home game for Zambia’s coach Patrice Beaumelle and also Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s first game against the Chipolopolo as Cranes tactician.
While the Cranes are using the game ahead of the preliminary round of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, the hosts are also getting their team together ahead of a very busy year, with the coach identifying new talent.
The Serb has played down any notions of a score to settle on behalf of his predecessor Bobby Williamson.
“I am not one to belong to that group one of those coaches who arrive at the airport and threaten you but we shall do everything possible in order to offer a proper tactical approach to the game and we do the best on the field of play to get a proper result,” Micho said.
Emmanuel Okwi and Hamis Kiiza are expected to lead the Cranes’ attack, while skipper Andrew Mwesigwa, Isaac Isinde and Richard Kassaga command the backline with Bidvest Wits’ Dennis Onyango in goal.
Tony Mawejje and Henry Kalungi are out of the game after failing to secure their travel documents on time.
In the absence of Mawejje, Micho will stick with the Aucho Khalid-Geoffrey Kizito midfield partnership that started during the CECAFA Challenge Cup in Kenya last year.
“We are not here for revenge since Zambia beat Uganda Cranes in 2012. I want to test my players ahead of the AFCON qualifiers in May,” said Micho.
Zambia’s aging skipper Christopher Katongo is expected to lead the home team in search of goals, while Jacob Mulenga and James Chamanga will not be part of the team due to long-term injuries.
Cranes striker Daniel ‘Mzee’ Sserunkuma hopes to transform his good scoring form at the club to the national team.
The diminutive striker has netted four goals in five outings for Gor Mahia this season including two in the Orange Caf Champions league.
“I hope to bring the club form to the national team because it’s my country,” Sserunkuma told the local media.
Sserunkuma has so far earned six international caps scoring three goals.
Beaumelle going a win to woo over his doubters
Zambia coach Patrice Beaumelle faces his first test at home hoping to get a win to woo over his doubters following mixed response over his appointment six months ago.
Beaumelle has gone nine straight games in charge away from home since his appointment last October when he replaced his mentor and predecessor Herve Renard following the latter’s departure to take up the job at French Ligue One club Sochaux.
Beaumelle has said he is not feeling the pressure at all despite mixed feelings at home as to whether he is the right man for the job despite being Renard’s assistant since 2008.
“Yes, the first game in 2014 and as I said a few days ago it is my first game as head coach with Chipolopolo at home so everybody is expecting to watch a good game,” Beaumelle said.
“It is not a new thing because we have working together for the last five years so it is just a continuity of that.”
The Frenchman has won four and lost as many games including one draw.
Today’s match will also mark the return of TP Mazembe midfielder Rainford Kalaba for the first time since he controversially pulled out of Beaumelles debut match in a friendly against Brazil away in Beijing on October 15 citing injury.
What the stars say:
Cranes captain Andy Mwesigwa “It is our chance to try and win away from home if we are to do it again in the forthcoming qualifiers. Zambia is a good team, getting good results here will give us confidence.”
Kennedy Mweene (Zambian goal keeper) “I have played Uganda thrice winning and drawing once, but Uganda is a very difficult team. I believe the fans will enjoy the game. I have a few friends of mine in that team so it will be a great game.”
Stoppila Sunzu (Zambia defender): “I am happy to be back in the national team and playing in front of the home fans. ”It is a big game for us because Uganda gave us hard time here and Kampala. I believe the technical committee was spot on to invite Uganda. For this day we can’t ask much so, fans will enjoy a very competitive game tomorrow.”
The Cranes players in Zambia: Denis Onyango, Robert Odongkara, Isaac Isinde, Andy Mwesigwa, Denis Guma, Nicholas Wadada, Isaac Muleme, Richard Kasagga, Boban Zirintusa, Geoffrey Kizito, Sula Matovu, Moses Oloya, Daniel Sserunkuma, Khalid Aucho, Emma Okwi, Hamis Kiiza, Francis Olaki
Zambia squad : Joshua Titima, Nsabata Toaster, Kennedy Mweene Davies Nkausu, Kabaso Chongo, Stoppila Sunzu, Bronson Chama, George Chilufya, Emmanuel Mbola, Joseph Musonda, Rodrick Kabwe, Nathan Sinkala, Adrian Chama, Shadreck Malambo, Chisamba Lungu, Christopher Katongo, Lubambo Musonda, Rainford Kalaba, Kennedy Mudenda, Evans Kangwa, Emmanuel Mayuka, Rodger Kola, Moses Phiri