Margao: The Zambian National football team arrived in Goa on Wednesday to play their first match against Goa XI on November 26 and later against India team on November 29 during the golden Jubilee celebrations of the Goa Football Association.
The visiting team is nicknamed as `Chipolopolo` (Chi-Polo-Polo) which means "Copper bullets" as copper is one of the nation’s main exports. Zambia was once on the 15th position in the FIFA rankings in 1996, but their rankings fell with time and they are currently perched at 80th spot.
Their proudest moment was when they crushed European champions Italy 4-0 in Olympics of 1988 in Korea.
Managed by French coach Herve Renard, the Zambian team reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious "African Nations Cup" after a gap of 14 years in 2010.
Many of their players play in leagues across the world; notable among them are Chris Kotongo and James Chamaga who play in the Chinese top League, and Felix Kotongo who plays with the famous Asian team Al-Ittihad.
Keeping in mind the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, coach Herve Renard who arrived in Goa this morning along with 20 players and eight officials wants to use the two friendlies on the Goa tour to assess their local players before finalizing the final squad for the AFCON.
After watching his team play against Nigeria, the French coach was not impressed with the fitness of the team, so also the defence and the strike force which needs to be polished.
The two friendlies against Goa and India will be ideal to assess the local players for the inclusion in the AFCON squad where they will play against tough opponents - Libya, Senegal and hosts Equatorial Guinea in group A.
Emmanuel Mbola who was a revelation at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola where we lost in the quarter-finals against Nigeria (4-5) on penalties, is serving a four month ban that expires on February 14, which means he cannot take part in this prestigious Cup, hopes Joseph Musonda who will replace him on the left back.
Zambia squad: Kalililo Kakonje, Jacob Banda, Jimmy Mulenga, Nyambe Mulenga, Hichani Himonde, Dennis Banda, Llawrence Chungu, Stephen Kabwe, Bruce Musakanya, Francis Kasonde, Nathan Sinkala, Joseph Sitali, Kennedy Mundenda, Felix Katongo, Oswald Kalamba, Evans Kangwa, Luike Lungu, Alfred,Luputa, Ronald Kampamba, Chisamba Lungu.
Coach: Renard Herve
Manager: Stanley Kaseko, Physio: Gipson Chaloba.