Chipolopolo coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic says he is closer to having his final teams for the back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana and also the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Speaking after the morning workout at National Heroes Stadium where he is drilling 42 local players Micho said his charges will be down to 30 after this week’s assessment
Micho said the next test for the remaining players will a friendly match against Malawi next Wednesday in Lusaka before heading to Uganda for a three-nation tournament that will see Zambia play Mali and the Cranes.
The team will face Ethiopia in another international friendly match in Addis Ababa on March 21.
“We have overall 52 players, 10 of them are absent due to competitive duties and 42 are here, 36 in-field players and six goalkeepers. From this number of 52 we shall go down 24 field players and four goalkeepers that will start next Monday 9th March camp. That will culminate in the match against Malawi that we are playing on Wednesday,” he said.
“After that on Sunday 15th March, we are leaving to Uganda for the three-nation tournament. We will play Uganda on 17th, Mali on 19th and then on the way back we will play Ethiopia.”
Upon returning from the East Africa tour, Micho will unveil his Botswana AFCON squad and Chan teams.
He said that he had seen great talent in Zambia that only needed to be transformed into world beaters.
“I have been a coach for the last 26 years and last few years I have worked in nine countries, been to 50 out of 54. I feel extremely proud to be coaching these boys because they are very coachable, they are fast learners, they are like sponges absorbing everything quickly,” he said.
“They are players that are having a good platform and I would like to give credit to Zambian coaches who have nurtured them.”
“We need to ask ourselves, we know that we are having talented players but the only question is, do we know how to make results and make people happy because this is the only identity you have in football. How do you win or not? We want to do everything to turn that talent into something that will give us results and make our supporters happy.”
Micho said that he is conscious that coaching Zambia comes with heavy expectations for any tournament.
“When you are coaching Zambia, every single match, no matter whether it is a friendly or CHAN or AFCON are very important,” he said.
“We have no right to think about CHAN at the moment, all we have to do is reclaim the pride of the nation by not allowing ourselves to be a punching bag in the group with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Algeria where we have zero points.”
Zambia hosts Botswana on March 26 in Lusaka before heading to Gaborone for the return leg in back-to-back Group H Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The team will be at the Cameroon 2020 CHAN that kicks off on April 4 where they will play Guinea, Tanzania and Namibia.
Micho has been combing the country for local talent and has now trimmed his list to 42 with the exclusion of four players from Zesco, Zanaco (four) and two from Lumwana Radiants that are exempted due to club engagements.