ZAMBIA soccer team captain Christopher Katongo is a doubt for next month’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Uganda in Ndola because of a knee injury which also knocked him out of Wednesday’s international friendly against South Korea.
Both national team head physician Joseph Kabungo and assistant coach Honour Janza confirmed the knee injury upon arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka yesterday with Kabungo saying the 2012 AFCON best player was under rehabilitation.
Kabungo explained that Katongo, the 2012 AFCON winning skipper, had a nerve pressure problem which was causing pain in the right knee and his match-fitness levels and availability for first of the two-leg qualifiers against Uganda could not be determined now.
“Chris (Katongo) has a nerve pressure and this is causing problems with his right knee. That’s why he sat out of the game against South Korea. He presently is under rehabilitation and we shall closely monitor the process from his China base.
“He has had that problem for two weeks but we hope he will recover in time (for the Uganda game) but one thing is that he has remained focused to recover in time for the Uganda game,” Kabungo said.
Katongo has been a key member of the Zambia National Soccer team and has scored several key goals, the latest being the winner against Ghana two months ago in Ndola which threw Zambia right back in the hunt for the maiden world Cup berth to be staged in Brazil next month.
About the Korea outing, Janza said that the game was important to Zambia as apart from preparing the team for the crucial game against Uganda, exposed the players to top quality football they would meet should they make the 2014 World Cup finals list.
Janza admitted that Zambia was outplayed in the 1-2 loss but insisted that what was important for the technical bench was to pick out the positives from the game that would help make the team stronger and better for future games.
He said that there were some weaknesses spotted in the game which would only help the technical bench come up with a solution for future assignments.
“One of the positives from that game for us coaches was the way the players responded to Koreans’ type of play. They didn’t sit back or crumble but fought on and that is a good sign and we have to build on it,” Janza said.
The Chipolopolo will host the Cranes of Uganda on September 8 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola in the first 2013 AFCON qualifier.
And Orlando Pirates’ new acquisition, Collins Mbesuma has promised to work hard at the South Africa Absa Premier Soccer League club and regain his place in the Zambia squad.
In an interview from Johannesburg yesterday, Mbesuma said he was still fancying his chances of winning back a place in the Chipolopolo and that performing well at Pirates could guarantee him that opportunity.
Mbesuma said Chipolopolo coach Herve Renard told him that he would be monitoring his performance in the South African PSL.
The former Chipolopolo talisman, who signed a three-year deal at the South African champions on Thursday, said he would first work hard at Pirates and help the club achieve more.
Joining Pirates from Golden Arrows, Mbesuma said he had given him an opportunity to prove that he was a good player.
The burly striker said he wanted to play his best game and assist Pirates continue winning trophies.