A third absence at the Africa Cup of Nations now looks in the face of a sleeping African football powerhouse as the Chipolopolo steps in the ring of fire against the desert foxes of Algeria. And the stakes of adrenaline have never been higher.
While Algeria trends on no pressure having already secured their ticket to Cameroon, the Desert Foxes are still favorites to beat Zambia, and here is why the Zambian boys will need to leave the field with nothing in their lungs if they are to beat Algeria.
Star forward Mahrez and four others won’t be available for the showdown in Lusaka, but the Algerians are a ferocious pack of wild dogs who work together and for each other. They are a team that thrives on teamwork, less on individual brilliance and the absence of Mahrez must not fool Zambia into thinking it will be roses on Thursday.
Their philosophy of combined speed, endurance, ambush, agility, and attacking barrage has made them front runners in the group and favorites to win the African showpiece which will now be held in 2022.
With Baghdad Bounedjad, Youcef Belaili, Brahimi, Bentaleb, and Slimani all available, the Foxes will attack with viper sting and defend with dragon brutality. Zambia will have to work hard for their three points.
Zambia vs Algeria: Chipolopolo Hopes
The presence of In-form Patson Daka at the tip of the Zambian attacking spear however will be a gleam of hope. Daka brings with him hunger, power, instinct, and conviction to put the ball behind the Algerian net. He will need the precision that cannot be feigned and anything less from him will be catastrophic.
Supported by the poetic Cletus Chama and mercurial Enock Mwepu just behind him, this combination of balance, intelligence, and footwork carries everything Zambia needs to triumph.
In the midfield anchoring role where the Algerians are most rough and compact will be Nathan Sinkala. He understands better all the cranes and nukes of the African center circle and how he will position himself as circuit breaker in every Algerian attack will be Zambia’s life line.
It all looks a desolate and unforgiving landscape for Zambia and Survival is near miraculous and it will be fascinating to see how the gods of Zambian football handles this heat.