Zambia AFCON 2023 Preview and Predicted XI: Will Daka translate Foxes form to the finals?

Zambia will participate in the 2023 AFCON finals for the first time since 2015 after missing out on the last three editions.

The surprise champions of 2012 will be looking to improve this time around, following group stage exits in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

How Did Zambia qualify for AFCON?

Zambia finished top of their qualifying group and recorded some strong results against Ivory Coast, Comoros and Lesotho. The Copper Bullets won four of their six matches and lost just once in qualifying.

While straightforward home and away victories came against minnows Lesotho, Zambia also stood out for impressive displays against Ivory Coast. Despite losing their away leg 3-1, Zambia hit back in the reverse fixture, thrashing the Elephants 3-0 at home.

Patson Daka of Zambia
Muzi Ntombela/Sports Inc – Photo by Icon sport

Zambia AFCON 2023 Preview

Who will Zambia play at AFCON 2023?

Taking on Zambia at the 2023 AFCON will be DR Congo, Tanzania and Morocco in Group F.

DR Congo

First up for Avram Grant’s Zambia side is DR Congo. The central African nation can provide a stern test for the Copper Bullets. DR Congo has progressed from the AFCON group stages in five of their last eight appearances and finished third in 1998 and 2015.

The Leopards also topped their qualifying group with four wins from six. However, Zambia will take confidence from head to head against DR Congo as they have never lost to their upcoming AFCON opponents, winning once and drawing four.

Tanzania

Zambia will target their clash against Tanzania as a must-win. Tanzania are one of the lowest-ranked AFCON 2023 nations and are making just their third-ever appearance in the finals. The Copper Bullets also have a strong recent record against Tanzania and they have triumphed in their last three head-to-head fixtures against the East African nation.

Morocco

Morocco should provide Zambia with their toughest Group F test at the AFCON. The Atlas Lions are ranked 13th in the official FIFA rankings and will be on a high after reaching the 2022 World Cup semi-finals in Qatar. To make matters tougher for Grant’s side, Zambia have only won once in six previous head to heads against Morocco.

How far will Zambia go?

Zambia showed enough potential in their qualification campaign to progress past the AFCON group stages and into the quarter-finals. However, a fast start for the central African nation will be key as maximum points against DR Congo and Tanzania will ease the pressure from the final group game against Morocco.

Zambia AFCON 2023 Preview

Zambia – Predicted AFCON 2023 XI

Goalkeeper

Although Grant has preferred Francis Mwansa in goal for two of Zambia’s last three matches, the Copper Bullets’ boss is likely to stick with the more experienced. Lawrence Mulenga. Since 2018, Mulenga has been part of the Zambian first-team squad and started two of Zambia’s final two AFCON qualification matches.

Defence

With a preference for a 4-3-3 formation, Grant is likely to maintain consistency in his back four. In particular, defensive solidity will come from the central partnership of Dominic Chanda and Stoppila Sunzu, who have a combined 87 international caps.

In the full-back positions, Rodrick Kabwe is expected to start on the left, having captained Zambia in the last two matches. Benedict Chepeshi should complete the backline as the 40-capped man often starts at right back.

Midfield

The anticipated two deep-lying midfielder roles should be occupied by Emmanuel Banda – one of Grant’s regular starters. Kelvin Kapumbu has also been a preferred starter alongside Banda in the defensive midfield role.

Further forward, attacking midfielder Kelvin Kampamba is the most likely to occupy the space just behind the front three. The 27-year-old has scored six goals in 38 matches from this position.

Attack

Two wingers Fashion Sakala and Lameck Banda should support Leicester striker Paston Daka as the attacking trio.

This attacking combination has started two of Zambia’s last four matches, showing that Grant should go with consistency into the AFCON finals. With 19 international goals between them, this front three is certainly not to be underestimated.


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Alex Waite

Alex is a freelance sports writer with experience writing digital news, blogs, features, exlcusive interviews and SEO. He has a keen interest and knowledge of UK and European football, ATP and WTA tennis, cricket and boxing.