Zambia surprise with Mweene recall for COSAFA Cup

Zambia coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has recalled veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene after naming a 30-man provisional squad for the 2021 COSAFA Cup that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from July 6-18.

Mweene’s recall is something if a surprise given that he has not played international football for three years, though he never retired and has previously stated he was open to a return to the national team.

The 36-year-old is one of four goalkeepers in the squad alongside Polokwane City gloveman Cyril Chibwe, and Gregory Sanjase (Young Green Eagles) and Lameck Siame (Kabwe Warriors).

Sredojevic has not called any of his players from Europe, but there is a strong contingent of South African-based stars to choose from, including in-form forward Augustine Mulenga (AmaZulu), strikers Justin Shonga (Cape Town City) and Gamphani Lungu (SuperSport United), and midfielder Salulani Phiri (Polokwane City).

Zambia are the defending champions from the last competition held in 2019, and begin their Group B campaign this year against Comoros Islands on July 7.

They face Madagascar three days later, before a final pool game against Malawi on June 13. Only the top team in each of the three pools and the best runner-up advance to the semifinals.

Sredojevic has previously said he wants to use the competition as a build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup group stage qualifiers that start in September.

Zambia provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Kennedy Mweene (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Gregory Sanjase (Young Green Eagles), Cyril Chibwe (Polokwane City, South Africa), Lameck Siame (Kabwe Warriors)

Defenders: Isaac Shamujompa, Roderick Kembo (both Buildcon), Simon Silwimba, Adrian Chama (both Zesco United), Dominic Chanda (Kabwe Warriors), Kabaso Chongo (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Prosper Chiluya, Benedict Chepeshi (both Red Arrows), Zachariah Chilongoshi (Power Dynamos)

Midfielders: Roderick Kabwe (Black Leopards, South Africa), Spencer Sautu, Benson Sakala (both Power Dynamos), Felix Bulaya, Paul Katema (both Red Arrows), Salulani Phiri (Polokwane City, South Africa), Collins Sikombe (Lusaka Dynamos), Prince Mumba (Kabwe Warriors), Augustine Mulenga (AmaZulu, South Africa), Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba (Zesco United), Jimmy Mukeya (NAPSA Stars)

Forwards: Moses Phiri, Rodger Kola (both Zanaco), Gamphani Lungu (SuperSport United, South Africa), Brian Mwila (Buildcon), Justin Shonga (Cape Town City, South Africa), Friday Samu (Green Buffaloes)