2012 AFCON WINNER KALABA URGES CHIPOLOPOLO BOYS TO SEIZE MUST-WIN OPENING AGAINST DR CONGO
Former Zambia midfielder and 2012 AFCON champion Rainford Kalaba has declared Zambia’s tournament opener against DR Congo a “must-win” encounter, stressing its importance in setting the tone for their long-awaited return to the competition.
Having missed out on the last three AFCON editions, Zambia faces a crucial test on January 17th against their familiar rivals. Kalaba, who played a pivotal role in the 2012 triumph, likened the match to a “local derby,” highlighting the potential for a tricky and demanding battle.
“Playing DR Congo is like a local derby,” Kalaba stated. “They are not a pushover side; they are a tough team. It being the first game, we have no option but to win it. Winning the first game is a must, as it will set the tone for the team in the tournament.”
Despite Zambia’s relatively inexperienced squad compared to past editions, Kalaba expressed confidence in their quality and potential. He emphasized the importance of following coach Avram Grant instructions and maintaining faith in themselves.
“We have a good squad that is full of quality and determined players who can go all the way,” Kalaba affirmed. “Following the coach’s instructions and believing in themselves is the key.”
The former TP Mazembe midfielder also assured the team of unwavering support from their home nation as they embark on their quest to replicate the success of 2012.
“We will be watching from afar, but we will be with them in spirit. All the best to the team.”
Zambia is placed in Group F alongside Morocco, Tanzania, and DR Congo. Their road to glory begins on January 17th, and a strong opening performance against their local rivals could be the catalyst for a successful campaign.- Zed Sport