14 November 2017 12:58
Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene has rallied his teammates to play for pride and honour this weekend when they hosts the African champions, Cameron, in an ultimate Group B FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifier.
The Chipolopolo and the Indomitable Lions meet in a dead-rubber Day Six clash on Saturday at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
With Nigeria already qualified for the World Cup after winning the group with an unassailable 13 points with a game in hand, Zambia and Cameroon have been left to battle for the symbolic honour of a runners-up finish.
The Chipolopolo occupy second spot on seven points, a point richer than third place Cameroon with Algeria at the bottom with just a point from five games.
For Zambia, they will be hoping to finish on a positive note following their 1-0 away loss in Nigeria that sealed the qualification of the Super Eagles.
“There are disappointments in life but if it wasn’t meant to be, is not meant to be. As professional footballers, we will have a lot of disappointment but we have to forge ahead because that is not the only game,” Mweene said.
“If we continue dwelling on that game we won’t come out of our shell and will always be disappointed.
“What is important is to look forward to this game on Saturday bearing in mind that it may not be important but as a player it is important to finish on a good note.
“It will be encouraging and it will bring positive energy as well considering the team is composed of young players who were playing in their first qualifiers and will be motivated to work extra hard.
“It will be encouraging not only for the younger guys but for us seniors too. We have to show we respect our flag and nation,” the Mamelodi Sundowns goalie added.
Zambia will also be seeking a better result against Cameroon after they finished 1-1 in the first leg on November 12, 2016 in Limbe. But will have to do that with injury setbacks heading into the match.
Right-back Simon Silwimba and midfielder Kondwani Mtonga are ruled out due to injuries they sustained in separate league engagements at their club, Zesco United, over the last fortnight.
The good news however is that striker Patson Daka of Austrian side, RB Salzburg, who missed the Nigeria game due to injury, is back for his third game of the campaign.
Daka was outstanding outing in Zambia’s Group B double-header against Algeria in September that saw him score the lone goal in Chipolopolo’s 1-0 away win over the North Africans on September 5 in Constantine.
Meanwhile, Mweene added that the weekend’s match should also set a benchmark for the new-look Zambia ahead of a busy schedule in early 2018 that begins with the Total African Nations Championship in Morocco in January for the home-based players in the team and thereafter, the resumption of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2019 qualifiers in March away to Namibia.
“Games like these give an opportunity for the local guys even if they don’t participate on Saturday. It gives them a chance to show what they can do before they go to camp for the CHAN in December.
“We also have to carry on and improve in the Total AFCON Cameroon 2019 qualifiers. We have Namibia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau to play and we are on zero points.
“But anything is possible. I have no doubt that with the team that we have we will qualify for Total AFCON Cameroon 2019,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will play as guests of Algeria in the other Group B match on Friday in Constantine.