THE Zambia Under-20 soccer team's preparations for the 2013 Africa Youth Championship final qualifying round, first leg match against Mali set for this Saturday at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe has received a boost following the arrival of two foreign-based players.
Sweden-based defender Peter Mulenga of BK Hacken and midfielder Sam Kapengwe of Congo DR side, TP Mazembe joined the team on Sunday in Kitwe, while Denmark-based Suwilanji Mwabala of Kolding FC has been dropped.
Head coach Keegan Mumba, said after an afternoon training session at Arthur Davies yesterday that Mwabala showed potential in training and only needs enough time before he can be fully ready to feature for the COSAFA Under-20 championship.
The 24-member team had two training sessions on Monday and yesterday morning and was expected to have an afternoon preparatory match against a Kitwe academy at Arthur Davies.
And Mumba said the decision to play Saturday's qualifier at Arthur Davies Stadium was reached at considering the vibrancy of the Kitwe fans.
Mumba has since urged Kitwe fans to turn up in large numbers to help propel the junior Chipolopolo to get a good result and ease pressure when they travel to Mali's capital Bamako for the return leg.
"We thought of bringing the game to Kitwe because of the vibrant fans here. We believe that the team will need the 12th player, the supporters who are very passionate here in Kitwe," he said.
The Zanaco trainer said despite not having had competitive international friendly matches, the junior Chipolopolo would be ready for Mali are a good side that plays a compact game and effective on counter attacks.
He said the COSAFA Under-20 champions were focused for the encounter and would not underrate Mali who boost of products from the successful and renowned Centre Salif Keita soccer academy.
"Our vision is first to qualify for the Africa Cup then when we get there we can start looking at qualifying for the World Cup," Mumba said.
He thanked the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) for the support and the Chipolopolo technical staff headed by Herve Renard for putting an input in the team that qualified on bye following the withdrawal of Lesotho.
"The support from FAZ has been overwhelming. The technical director Honour Janza was with us here and when we were camping in Lusaka we had the head coach Herve Renard which is very motivating to team," he said.
The team last played in competitive match at the COSAFA Under-20 championship in Botswana where they came from one goal down to beat Angola 2-1 through goals by the Nkana striking pair of Evans Kangwa and Reynolds 'Sate Sate' Kampamba.
Mumba will rely on some seasoned players like Bruce Musakanya, Felix Nyaende, Mukuka Mulenga and Kampamba to overcome Mali who qualified to this stage after ejecting Rwanda.