2023 Afcon Qualifiers: Mweene missing as Daka, Mwepu make Zambia squad to face Ivory Coast

Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene of Zambia and Mamelodi Sundowns.Zambia FA.

Zambia coach Aljosa Asanovic has left out veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene in his 25-man squad for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations fixtures against Ivory Coast and Comoros.

The Chipolopolo will be away to confront the Elephants in Yamoussoukro on June 3 before hosting the Coelacanths four days later at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. Zambia are pooled in Group H alongside Ivory Coast, Comoros, and Lesotho.

Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Mweene is among the players left out of the squad, the other notables being Simba SC midfielder Clatous Chama and Augustine Mulenga, who turns out for another Premier Soccer League side Amazulu in South Africa, and Stoppilla Sunzu of Shijiazhuang Ever Bright.

While Chama and Mulenga have been left out owing to their respective injuries, Asanovic has confirmed the long-serving shot-stopper Mweene indicated he could only be available after June 3 hence the decision to leave him out of the squad.

“Mweene indicated he could only be available after June 3 citing club commitments while Stoppilla Sunzu’s club Shijiazhuang Ever Bright notified the Football Association of Zambia they could not release the player owing to the Covid-19 instigated lockdown,” Asanovic revealed as quoted by FAZ social media.

“Sunzu’s club said the player would suffer a 21-day isolation on his return from national duty.”

Among the players making the squad include Leicester City forward Patson Daka and Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Enock Mwepu. While Daka managed 23 appearances for the Foxes and scored five goals in the just-concluded Premier League season, Mwepu played 16 times for the Seagulls and scored two goals.

Asanovic is, however, confident the players summoned for duty including newbie Frankie Musonda will fly the flag higher in the two fixtures.

“We will be ready, all we need is just to focus and play at a higher level,” added Asanovic.

Zambia’s final squad; Goalkeepers; Toaster Nsabata (Sekhukhune-RSA), Charles Kalumba (Red Arrows), and Cyril Chibwe (Unattached).

Defenders; Frankie Musonda (Raith Rovers-Scotland), Tandi Mwape (TP Mazembe-DRC), Miguel Chaiwa (Athletico), Dominic Chanda (Kabwe Warriors), Benedict Chepeshi (Red Arrows), and Shemmy Mayembe (Zesco United).

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Midfielders; Roderick Kabwe (Sekhukhune-RSA), Enock Mwepu (Brighton-England), Emmanuel Banda (Djurgardens-Sweden), Kings Kangwa (Arsenal Tula-Russia), Rally Bwalya (Simba SC-Tanzania), Prince Mumba (Kabwe Warriors), Lubambo Musonda (AC Horsens-Denmark), Kelvin Kampamba, Spencer Sautu, (both Zesco United), Lameck Banda (Maccabi Petah Tikva-Israel), and Edward Chilufya (Midtjylland-Denmark).

Strikers; Fashion Sakala (Rangers-Scotland), Evans Kangwa (Arsenal Tula-Russia), Ricky Banda (Red Arrows), Gamphani Lungu (SuperSport United-RSA Patson Daka and (Leicester City-England).