Three years ago Zambia were the toast of Africa, securing a first Cup of Nations title in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon. They were a surprise package that tournament, all the more popular victors as just over 20 years earlier the Zambian team and coaches were killed in a plane crash close to the site of their cup win. It was an incredible win for the nation, with some great scalps taken along the way, including Senegal in the group stage, Ghana in the Semi-Finals and an nail-biting penalty shoot-out win against Cote D’Ivoire in the final. Matched with Tunisia, DR Congo and Cape Verde this time around, it will again be tough for them to proceed.
Qualification came through a relatively easy group, along with Cape Verde who they meet again on the 26th of January in the final group game, where a lot could depend on the final result. Honours were even in qualification with a win apiece so no psychological advantage can be held by either team in that respect. Coached by one of the few African managers at the competition, home-grown Honour Janza, they will look to repeat the feats of three years ago, their 2013 performance was also encouraging. Although they were unable to reach the knockout phase of the competition they remained unbeaten with three draws to their name.
Ten squad players have been chosen from Zambian clubs, with a handful added from overseas clubs, one who will be looking to add to his 11 international goals will be Emmanuel Mayuka of Southampton FC from the English Premier League. First up for the Zambian Bullets will be DR Congo where they will look to take maximum points as the next-up classy Tunisians are by far favourites to top the group.
I think this will come down to the last game and is a difficult call as to whether the Chipolopolo have the strength in depth to reach knockout football. DR Congo and Tunisia seem to me, to have enough to proceed from this group so it’s a first round exit prediction for me.