Zambia’s Asanovic gives his AFCON Group H ratings

Zambia’s Asanovic gives his AFCON Group H ratings
Zamia coach Aljosa Asanovic

by Staff Reporter

Thursday Apr 21, 2022. 12:36

Zambia coach Aljosa Asanovic says Chipolopolo are going to respect opponents Lesotho and Comoros in the 2023 AFCON Group H qualifiers.

Only one of the three teams will qualify to the 2023 AFCON from Group H that also contains tournament hosts Cote d’Ivoire, whose pool games are classified as friendlies.

To qualify, only one team must either finish as Group H runners-up behind Cote d’Ivoire or win the pool.

“This is the only group with three teams so we will really have to fight for the one place because Cote d’Ivoire is already qualified as hosts,” Asanovic said.

“They are a very good team, with a big roaster with high level players but our matches against Cote d’Ivoire will also be good for us to see our character against high-ranked teams.”

Chipolopolo will open their Group H campaign away in Abidjan during Matchday 1 and 2 that will run from May 30 to June 14.

Asanovic however, warned that it is the business end of Group H and that he is particularly wary of Comoros, led by their Red Star Belgrade striker Ben Nabouhane, after the Islanders made an impressive AFCON debut at the Cameroon tournament in January where they reached the round of 16.

“But we should be careful about Comoros after their performances from the last AFCON but my staff and I have watched the team. It is well balanced with mostly with French-based players,” Asanovic said.

“I know one player who plays in Serbia he will be one of our main threat and he also plays at the highest level with his club in the European Champions League.”

Comoros will visit Zambia on Matchday 2 during the June window.

It will be Comoros’ first visit since September 2010 in the 2012 AFCON group stage qualifiers.

But Asanovic said he knows very little about Lesotho, who are coached by Veselin Jelusic, the man who never took up his Chipolopolo appointment in 2018 after Government rejected the FAZ’s decision to hire him.

Jelusic later found his way to Zambia where he spent one and a half seasons with City of Lusaka.

“We know that they have a Serbian coach who once worked in Lusaka and he will be well prepared for us. We must look at his playing and thinking style,” the Croat said.

Chipolopolo will play Lesotho in back-to-back Group H dates during the September window with the first leg at home in Lusaka.

Meanwhile, Asanovic added that he knew his players would be extra-motivated in the Cote d’Ivoire friendlies, but only hopes they would be at the same level against Comoros and Lesotho.

“But we must be very careful and not think Comoros and Lesotho are weak teams we must prepare very well. These two teams for us are very dangerous,” Asanovic said.

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