Africa: TotalEnergies U17 AFCON – Bakala Turns Attention to ‘Do or Die’ Morocco Clash
Zambia’s hopes of a place in the quarter-finals of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) now squarely lie on whether they can conjure a result against Group B leaders Morocco when the two sides clash in the final pool stage match in Annaba on Saturday.
Zambia suffered their second defeat in the group after a 3-2 loss against COSAFA rivals South Africa.
Their hope of squeezing through to the last eight lies on whether they can finish as one of the best two third placed teams.
That hope will only be made valid, if they can beat Morocco and coach Ian Bakala says the team will need to fight to their last ounce of strength to clinch a win from the Atlas Cubs.
“I think we have a high chance to beat Morocco. Most likely they will come underrating us and change the team but we are not relying on that. We have to go there and win the game. It is a do or die match,” Bakala said.
He adds; “We will give our all to try and forge into the next round.”
Zambia had come from two goals down to tie 2-2 against South Africa courtesy of an Emmanuel Mwanza double, but a lapse in concentration less than quarter of an hour to go saw them concede a third.
“It is very painful to lose this match this way. With the way the game was going, we didn’t expect to lose. We conceded a very soft goal but we must put this behind our backs and try to focus on Morocco,” says the coach.
Looking back at the game, Bakala had to make changes just five minutes to the break to give his side balance.
He explains his reasoning behind the substitutions. “We had started the game with two defensive midfielder and the changes we made, we removed one. It gave us more strength in attack because after that we attacked more and created more chances.”
Zambia are making their second appearance at the tournament. Their last appearance was in 2015 where they were also eliminated at the group stages.