09 October 2018 12:44
Zambia have a date with ghosts from their recent past when they host Guinea Bissau on Wednesday as they navigate their way through the choppy waters in Group K hunting for their first win of the campaign.
Two years ago, Guinea Bissau's path to their debut AFCON qualification was decided by a memorable 3-2 home win over the Chipolopolo to see them clinch their ticket to Gabon with a game in hand.
“Djurtus” as Guinea Bissau are nicknamed unbeaten against Chipolopolo with that win after they had earlier drawn 0-0 in their opening Group E qualifier in Ndola in June, 2015.
Chipolopolo now have an opportunity to exorcise those results in a four-day span starting Wednesday at home at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
The- two sides complete their Group K doubleheader on October 14 in Bissau when race enters its final three matches.
Guinea Bissau head into the first leg unbeaten and tied at the top of Group K with Mozambique on four points, three more than bottom-placed Zambia who are level on points with Namibia.
In summary, Chipolopolo must win at home this week at the halfway point of the qualifiers to ensure they remain relevant in the race.
Zambia come into the match after a 1-1 away draw against Namibia on September 8 in Windhoek that saw them earn their first point of the qualifiers after Mozambique beat them 1-0 in Ndola in June 2017.
"It is a crucial two-game window," Chipolopolo coach Sven Vandenbroeck said.
"We have to talk about progress now. Not winning on Wednesday; that we cannot afford. With a draw we will still have a mathematical chance. But there is no question, that nothing else but a win at home is important.
"We don't much time (between now and the game) but we have to build from where we left off one month ago against Namibia and work from there."
The match will also be Vandenbroeck's first home game in charge after the Namibia game and 1-0 away friendly win over Gabon in September.
Vandenbroeck has no injury worries and is a relieved man to see striker Patson Daka, who has seen little action over the last three weeks at Austrian champions RB Salzburg due to an injury, back in league action last Sunday.
Daka’s club mate and playmaker Enock Mwepu is also expected to play a critical part after his ingenuity saw Justin Shonga score a stoppage time equalizer in Windhoek earned them the draw.
But the Belgian has made a minor change to his team with Zesco United left-back Fackson Kapumbu recalled in place of Israel-based defender Emmanuel Mbola.
Kapumbu returns to the Chipolopolo fold for the first time since the TOTAL 2018 CHAN tournament in Morocco where Zambia reached the quarterfinals in January.
Meanwhile, Guinea Bissau travel to Lusaka with three tormentors who ended Chipolopolo’s 2017 AFCON dreams with a goal each two years ago.
Midfielder José Luís Mendes Lopes of FK Senica in Slovakia, striker's Fredric Mendy of Victoria Setubal in Portugal and Toni Silva of Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa are back and hoping to continue when they left from in June, 2016 in Bissau.