NDOLA — Zambia host Lesotho hoping to redeem themselves and put their 2014 World Cup qualifying race back on track.
Herve Renard’s side must make amends at home today at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola after a 10-man Zambia conceded a late equaliser in the first leg in Maseru on March 24 to finish 1-1.
The draw saw Zambia’s lead cut from three to one point in Group D ahead of second-placed Ghana on seven and six points respectively after three rounds of games played.
Southampton striker Emmanuel Mayuka said a home win is vital at Zambia’s famed fortress in Ndola.
“Everyone knows that the game against Lesotho is a must win game we have to work extremely hard and win that game,” Mayuka said.
“We know the importance of the game and we will just have to work as a team and get the result that we need.”
Meanwhile, Renard’s side has been hit with injuries to two key players including suspension to first choice goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene following his red card in Maseru. Midfielder Rainford Kalaba is out due to a calf injury while defender Stopilla Sunzu is a medium-term absentee following knee surgery on May 10.
On the bright side, Dutch-based striker Jacob Mulenga of FC Utrecht returns after missing the first leg on medical advice from his club not to play on artificial turf to avoid any potential injuries.
Mulenga’s return is a boost for Zambia’s frontline that has struggled to score goals after picking up just two wins in their last nine international matches since November 14.
Victory at home in Ndola where Zambia is unbeaten in over 40 years will keep Chipolopolo at the summit of Group D ahead of the grudge match against Sudan at the same venue on June 15.
Botswana face a must-win 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia today. The Zebras are currently at the foot of their qualification pool with a single point from three games, but could close the gap on leaders Ethiopia to just three points with a victory.
Defeat, or even a draw, would likely end their hopes of advancing to the next stage of qualifying.
Botswana were unfortunate to lose to a late Getaneh Kebede goal in the return fixture in Addis Ababa in March having dominated large parts of that match. It is the only time they have met in international matches.
The Southern African side are coming off an excellent 1-1 draw in Egypt in a friendly international played on Tuesday, a result that will have given them plenty of confidence going into this match.
Ethiopia would likely settle for a point with a crunch top-of-the-table clash coming up at home against South Africa on June 16.
Guinea must defeat Mozambique in their Group E 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Conakry tomorrow if they are to keep alive any realistic hopes of reaching the tournament in Brazil.
The West Africans find themselves placed second in the standings, five points adrift of leaders Egypt, who boast a 100% record and look to already have one foot in the final phase of qualification.
Guinea will be hoping that Zimbabwe, who host the North Africans in Harare earlier tomorrow, can claim at least a draw and put a dent in Egypt’s progress.
Michel Dussuyer’s side would then need to defeat Mozambique in order to close the gap. Guinea and Mozambique played to a goalless stalemate in their reverse fixture in Maputo back in March,