European-based duo jet in to Zambia

The European-based duo of Edward Chilufya and Mwiya Malumo are expected to arrive in Zambia on Tuesday as they link up with the squad ahead of the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships in Kitwe from December 2-14.

Chilufya plays for top Swedish side Djurgardens and the England-based Malumo has been most recently with Vulcan FC.

Their arrival will bolster the squad as Bwale looks to trim his final selection down to 20 players, but there is a good chance he will be without top forwards Francisco Mwepu and Lameck Banda.

Banda has been excused from camp to attend trials at Turkish top-flight side Istanbul Başakşehir, while Mwepu training with Austrian Bundesliga champions Redbull Salzburg.

It is unclear whether either will be back in time to take part in the COSAFA Under-20 Championships.

But Bwale remains convinced he has enough firepower to compete on home soil.

“We have enough players. We picked a 30-man squad. If you look at this stage it’s just developmental so we can’t depend on two players, hence this will not affect us at all,” Bwale has been quoted by local media.

He added that he expects an improvement on their first-round exit from the competition last year.   “Most of our boys have grown out of their shell. Definitely you are going to see an improvement compared to what we did last time.”

Meanwhile, Dream Factory defender Kingsley Hakwiya and Muma Mumba from Green Eagles have been excused from the camp while they finish writing their Grade 12 examinations.

Zambia open their campaign against Central African guest nation DR Congo on December 2, before clashes with Malawi (Dec. 5) and Mozambique (Dec. 8).

The top team in each pool as well as the best-placed runner-up will contest the semifinals, which will both be played at the Nkana Stadium on December 11, with the losers at that stage playing for the bronze medal as a curtain-raiser to the final.

Zambia are 11-time winners of the COSAFA Under-20 Championships, while Zimbabwe and South Africa have six wins each. Madagascar are the only other nation to lift the title after they enjoyed success in 2005.