I WOULD like to wish the Zambia Under-20 soccer team all the best as they take on Mali for a place at next year's Africa Youth Championships to be hosted by Morocco.
The team, however, finds itself with the tall order of bettering the 2-all result recorded after the first leg played at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe by beating Mali to ensure qualification is attained to the African championship in Algeria next year.
Having had a chat with Chipolopolo coach Herve Renard on Tuesday before the team left, I was made to believe that maybe-just maybe, not all was lost after all. Renard said Zambia was going to Mali to get the qualification.
He said he has two challenges at the moment, firstly to qualify the team to Morocco, then shift his attention to qualifying the African Champions to South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
He was, however, quick to point out that this would depend on the players' ability to apply themselves well on the pitch by working hard to get the result.
The boys will need to rise up to the challenge and put up performance related to champions.
They need to emulate the senior squad that won the AFCON in Gabon this year when all odds were against them.
Like the players I spoke to at the airport said; "We are COSAFA Champions and we need to take that spirit in the game for us to win."
"Having won the title away from home is a clear indication that nothing is impossible in Bamako."
It will be good to have the Youth team at the Africa Youth finals especially that all eyes are on Zambia as everyone wants to see what other teams can do by virtue of being African Champions. Hope the 'madalas' brought into the squad will add value and qualify the team.
Lastly, the Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) national sports awards are on tonight and the board should be commended for reviving the awards ceremony aimed at recognising the numerous efforts our sportsmen and women have put in to bring honour and glory to the country.
It is my hope that the awards would motivate other athletes to excel in the various disciplines by bringing the desired results. Hope people are aware that these awards are for 2011 and as such do not be surprised when the likes of the Chipolopolo or rally king Mohammed Essa are not among the winners.
Let the awards grow from strength to strength with athletes awarded every year for their tireless contribution to sports.