New Zambia coach Sven Vandenbroeck confident of reviving Afcon qualifying campaign

The 38-year-old Belgian was appointed Zambian coach last week, with qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) his immediate mandate

New Zambia coach Sven Vandenbroeck is relishing the task of reviving Chipolopolo’s Afcon qualification campaign and says he will not tamper with the squad he has inherited.

Taking over from Wedson Nyirenda who resigned in May in the middle of a rebuilding exercise that had shown immense promise, Vandenbroeck assumes a team anchored on national Under-20 graduates.

Starlets including Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Emmanuel Banda and Patrick Daka are touted as Zambia’s future after winning last year’s Under-20 Afcon title as well as participating at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

“The first thing is to get to Afcon 2019 and build the team that was more like a little bit constructed,” Vandenbroeck said.

“We have to go on with this team and get some continuity. Afcon 2019 is the first target and then we will look further, I think there is a project of three to four years (which is) possible with several targets.

“I cannot judge the former coach. That is not my job. I will not do it. Every player has a chance with me. Everything is open so I will check their performances (and) maybe I can give them a call-up but for me everyone can be called up.

“I don’t want to say I will do it but at least I will give them the chance to prove themselves. If they are performing well in games with their clubs they are welcome in the national team and if they are motivated 100 percent.”

With Zambia having kicked off their Afcon qualifiers on the backfoot with a 1-0 home loss to Mozambique, Vandenbroeck is confident of breathing life back into their campaign.

His first game in charge is September’s visit to Namibia, with Guinea-Bissau also in their group as their road to Cameroon 2019 does not appear an impossible journey.

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“The first game was lost but there are still five games to play,” said Vandenbroeck.

“And we play against everybody. The points we lost against Mozambique we can get them over there. So there is nothing lost until now. We just have to win and when you are with your back against the wall there is only one direction. That is forward, so that is the easy part you know you have to go forward.”

Zambian football is familiar terrain for Vandenbroeck who faced Chipolopolo twice in Fifa World Cup qualifiers last year, when he was assistant to former Cameroon coach Hugo Broos.