CHIPOLOPOLO midfield genius, Rainford Kalaba is set to miss African champions, Zambia's first of the four final preparatory matches for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Zambia will play fellow AFCON finalists, Angola tomorrow at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa as Herve Renard's men begin gauging their readiness for the AFCON finals.
But Renard may not be able to use his playmaker, who has just recovered from a groin injury, tomorrow as a precaution to avoid a recurrence of the problem that has kept Kalaba out of action since October last year.
Kalaba only resumed full contact training earlier this week at the Chipolopolo's camp site in South Africa.
Chipolopolo team doctor, Joseph Kabungo said the medical team were still closely monitoring Kalaba's recovery process and despite his return to full training, they would not risk him back for some of Zambia's friendly matches.
"Kalaba is no longer injured. His recovery has been gradual and it's good that he is now training with his colleagues though we won't rush him to commit fully to avoid a recurrence. We will see if he will play a part in the friendly matches coming ahead," Kabungo told mtnfootball.com.
Kabungo had earlier told the Times that Kalaba would not be rushed back into action, but that the talented midfielder will be ready for Zambia's 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group C opener against Ethiopia on January 21.
Zambia has a tight set of preparatory games which would see the continental champions play four matches in the next 11 days before opening the AFCON title defence against Ethiopia on January 21.
One of the preparatory matches in the next 11 days will see the Chipolopolo fly back home from their Johannesburg training base to face Norway at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The four friendly matches lined-up will see Zambia face Angola, Morocco, Norway and Namibia on January 5, 8, 12 and 15, respectively.
And Southampton coach, Nigel Adkins yesterday confirmed on the club's twitter account that striker Emmanuel Mayuka would be released to join the Zambia squad for the AFCON after this weekend's English FA Cup against defending champions, Chelsea.
Southampton will play Chelsea tomorrow at the Saint Mary's during the FA Cup third round match.
Holland-based striker, Jacob Mulenga is also expected to link up with the Chipolopolo by Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Chipolopolo continued with their rigorous training sessions yesterday with the 24 players in camp all showing their commitment to duty.
FAZ spokesperson, Erick Mwanza said the squad had the usual two intensive training sessions in Johannesburg and would continue today.
Mwanza said in Lusaka yesterday that the Chipolopolo were now gearing up for tomorrow's training match against Angola, kicking off at 16:00 hours.
He said the initial practice match against Swaziland, which was scheduled for tomorrow, had been shelved for now.
Zambia heads Group C, which also has Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, to be based at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.