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Afcon 2021 Qualifiers: Zambia not ready for big games - Katongo

2:12 PM SGT 17/11/19
Benlamri Djamel Justin Shonga
The Afcon-winning former Chipolopolo captain has shared his thoughts after the thumping in Blida

Former Zambia captain Christopher Katongo feels some Chipolopolo players were inexperienced and overwhelmed by the occasion, leading to Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing by Algeria in their opening Group H 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

It was an embarrassing start to the campaign by Zambia, as they fell at Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida.

Katongo, who captained Zambia to their first-ever Afcon triumph in 2012, is of the view that some Chipolopolo players were not up for the magnitude of the assignment.

“Everybody is not happy with what happened. It is football but I have always said there should be a transition of players. Don’t leave out the senior players. I am always saying leave the senior players to guide the other players,” Katongo said on social media.

“That game was so big for some other players. We have very good players but are not yet ready to tackle those huge games. So we need senior players to be there. I am going to repeat again, we need very good transition of taking out players, transition from one player to the other.”

Zambia missed some key players like Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Patson Daka and Emmanuel Banda, who are at the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt.

The absence of the players left Algeria striker Baghdad Bounedjah saying they expected little resistance from Zambia.

“We were expecting a little resistance from Zambians early in the game,” Bounedjah told Le Buteur .

“In the first period, we did not get many opportunities…It was hard to master the ball and put it on the ground to develop our game.

“The key to the match is this first goal we scored before the break from the corner. We had to open the score to better unfold and that's what we saw in the second half.

"Coach [Djamel] Belmadi told us that the opponent was going to leave spaces and he showed us how to take advantage of these spaces and score other goals to sign this wide success.”

Bounedjah scored a brace and now takes that form to Gaborone where they face Botswana in their second group game on Monday.

Adel Amrouche will lead Botswana against his country of birth.

Manchester City forward and Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez has been ruled out this match due to an unspecified “personal problem that requires us to let him go” according to coach Djamel Belmadi, as per Reuters.