Zambia back for defense

It’s never easy defending a trophy, but Zambia will be stronger for the inclusion of striker Jacob Mulenga.

The 28 year-old, currently top scorer for Utrecht in the Dutch top flight, missed Chipolopolo's epic win in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea through injury.

They’ll need him because Zambia had an unconvincing time as champions. Chipolopolo's record in that time reading four wins, four losses and a draw. They will need to lift their game in South Africa.

It’s something they know they can do. Zambia began 2012 with an unimpressive goalless draw against Namibia in Johannesburg, but a month later they were crowned Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) champions for the first time in the country's history.

Luckily for the Zambians, they possess plenty of experience, which should serve them well in the continental finals. Five of their squad also play their football in South Africa; others previously played in the PSL.

At the back, Free State Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, provides the team with a calming, veteran influence. He was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament at Afcon 2012.

In front of him, Golden Arrows defender Joseph Musonda is the most experienced player in the Zambian line-up, having played his 100th international in the Afcon final against Côte d'Ivoire in February.

At least three midfielders - Rainford Kalaba, Felix Katongo and Isaac Chansa - have played over 50 internationals. Chansa has extensive experience of South Africa, having played for Orlando Pirates.

Then there is the inspirational captain Christopher Katongo, the BBC African player of the year who has had a stellar year at international level and the precocious talent of Stoppila Sunzu at centre half

Chipolopolo have the experience, they know the South African conditions, and they know what it takes to win the Africa Cup of Nations. They simply need to use those advantages to find their form and make a run at back-to-back titles.

 

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