Zambia U20s showing fruits of new philosophy, says coach

Zambia shocked the continent in 2012 when they claimed top honours at the African Nations' Cup. Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda has hailed the trailblazing performances of the Zambia U20s at the FIFA U20 World Cup and promised that the Southern African nation have a bright future ahead of them.

African champions Zambian stunned Portugal 2-1 in their opening FIFA U20 World Cup match in South Korea on Sunday to prove their readiness to replicate the form which landed them the continental crown in March.

Edward Chilufya fired the Junior Chipolopolo into the lead on 51 minutes before star forward Fashion Sakala added a second with 14 minutes left to tame European giants Portugal, whose solitary strike arrived in injury time.

Zambia have been producing some breathtaking displays since winning the Cosafa U20 tournament last December, and Nyirenda has seen enough to proclaim that his new approach is bearing fruit.

"We are doing very fine, our performance is so great, that is what we expected," Nyirenda told KweséESPN. "We started preparing the team a long time ago, I think before the Cosafa tournament last December in South Africa.

"Since I came in, I have been helping the team and we have been working hand in hand with the coach," he added."On my coming to Zambia I introduced the new philosophy of playing, the new concept. So the young boys, the U20s, are the first to adapt and do that.

"[With] the senior team we haven't had much time together but they have also been good in adapting to this."

Inevitably, Nyirenda has been particularly impressed by Russia-based forward Sakala, who was in fine form again in the conquest of the Portuguese.

The Chipolopolo coach cannot wait to blend the more outstanding players from the U20 team with the senior stars.

"I have so many players in that team. For a start I think when they come back, the next camp I have with the senior team I maybe having about six of the boys, six or five of the boys," he added.

"Sakala is very strong, he has got strong runs and takes strong shots and he is a very disciplined player," he continued. "Also, we have Patson Daka, the young Chilufya. There is also Emmanuel Banda.

"I had already announced that the objective is to rebuild a very strong team that will fuse in the old and the new boys," he continued. "I think we are on the right track and the boys have shown a lot of character that they can easily come and give a greater challenge and competition to the senior players."