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Total respect

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By Mphatso Malidadi:

Zambia’s under-23 national football team finally jetted in the country Monday to the reality of meeting a team that wants to prove a point.

The young Chipolopolo take on Malawi at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre Wednesday in the first leg of the under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

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Most of the two teams’ players know each other from their meetings at under-20 level last year when Zambia won 1-0 in Lilongwe, while Malawi hit back by the same margin in the Lusaka encounter.

Malawi made known their serious intentions about qualifying for the finals by spending two weeks in Belgium and Egypt for preparatory matches.

The junior Flames will certainly be aiming to prove that the foreign trip was worth it by beating their neighbours.

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Speaking on arrival at Chileka Airport in Blantyre, Zambia stand-in Coach Bilton Musonda said, while his charges were favourites on paper, he feared for what the junior Flames could achieve playing at their backyard.

Musonda said Malawi are capable of winning the match.

“It is a difficult match for both of us. We know Malawi have had good preparations after camping in Belgium. We also had a short stay in South Africa; so, this will make the game exciting and tough,” he said.

Musonda, who hailed Football Association of Malawi for according his team a warm reception, said the two sides must have total respect for each other and avoid taking things for granted during the match.

Zambia arrived without Coach Beston Chambeshi and highly-rated Patson Daka who plies his trade in Belgium. Chambeshi arrived Monday evening while Daka is expected to join teammates Tuesday.

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