Zambia battle to end their Cosafa Cup semifinal woes on Saturday when they face Botswana in the quarterfinals at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in South Africa.
The four-time champions have failed to qualify to the last 8 in two successive Cosafa Cup appearances since they lifted the title as hosts in 2013.
Coach Wedson Nyirenda is under pressure to end that poor run at the tournament Zambia has continued to enjoy preliminary round group stage byes only because of the status on the FIFA rankings.
Zambia are unbeaten against Botswana in the Cosafa Cup but Nyirenda has reminded his charges of Mozambique who ended their unbeaten run against the Mambas in their 2019 AFCON Group K qualifier on June 10, that Chipolopolo lost 1-0 in Ndola.
“Every game is difficult, there is no easy game, Mozambique came and we had already beaten them before the match but they applied themselves better on the pitch and carried the day. We want to avoid that now,” Nyirenda said.
Nyirenda will not feature any high profile members of that team that lost to Mozambique nor will there be players from Zesco United or Zanaco due to their CAF club cup obligations between July 1 and July 9.
But he has added three members of the Zambia Under-20 team that won the 2017 U20 AFCON as hosts in March and went on to reach the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea in June.
They are defenders Moses Nyondo of Nkana and Napsa Stars’ Solomon Banda.
Nkana midfielder Boston Muchindu has also made the team.
But key will be the 12 players who featured in Zambia’s 2-1 friendly win over South Africa on June 13 played at nearby Moruleng.
They include Green Buffaloes striker Brian Mwila and Lubinda Mundia who both scored against Bafana and will be making their Cosafa Cup debuts.
Nkana defender Donashano Malama will captain the team and is the only member of the 2013 Cosafa Cup winning team in team.
However, Nkana striker Ronald Kampamba and Power Dynamos midfielder Fwayo Tembo were not selected for the tournament with an eye on the 2018 CHAN first round,first leg away qualifier against Swaziland on July 15.