THE Zambia Men’s hockey national team will today begin their journey at the 2022 Central and Southern Africa All Africa Games qualifiers with a crucial must win encounter against rivals Zimbabwe with coach Elvis Bwalya demanding for a bright start.

Zambia and Zimbabwe met last month in an international friendly where the Bwalya coached side emerged winners via a 9-5 score line.

At senior level, this will be the ninth meeting between the two sides but Zambia enjoy an upper hand having the most wins in the previous meetings.

Bwalya declared his troops ready and injury free for the crucial tie, adding the team’s target is to qualify for the All Africa games.

“The team is ready for the game against Zimbabwe. We expect a very tough encounter especially that we play a same type of game. We really need to win the first game knowing we only have two games to play. We need maximum points to be on a safer side and to be honest Zimbabwe is the biggest threat,” Bwalya said.

Two teams are expected to qualify from the Central and Southern Africa qualifiers that has only three teams taking part in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Bwalya said the team is injury free, adding that all the 18 players are available for selection.

“The team is doing well and we have not recorded any injuries so far. I expect my players to go all out guns blazing against Zimbabwe and Malawi as we have all resolved to ensure we qualify for the All Africa Games which are slated for Ghana next year,” said Bwalya.

The Zambia team mainly consists of the 2014 team that qualified the country to the first Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 team that finished fourth at the 2018 Argentina Youth Olympic Games.