Zambian football is certainly gripping the African continent with their senior men’s side being crowed champions of Africa early this year at the Africa Cup of Nations, and then their younger compatriots have won the week long COPA Coca-Cola International tournament held in South Africa.
For a young Mathews Sichone of Zambia the tournament has provided a breakthrough opportunity that he had only previously dreamt of.
The teenager was an integral part of the Zambian COPA Chipopololo side that won the tournament and saw his name being called alongside the most consistent players into the All-Star team.
“I am very delighted that things went my way and that we won the tournament,” said Sichone who went on to talk about his personal goals and the difficulties his side had to overcome to lift the trophy.
“My goal was to play well for my team and win the tournament but being included in the All-Star team was a bonus.
“There have been a lot of difficulties on our road to winning this title.
“Firstly, the weather in South Africa was a challenge that we had to acclimatise to.
“We also did not start off well. We started off with a defeat but we did not drop our heads and went on to conquer all teams after that,” explained the teenager who one day hopes to play for Zambian side Green Buffalos and South African side Kaizer Chiefs.
His sentiments were echoed by his 15-year-old teammate Sydney Phiri who insisted that their defeat in the opening match of the tournament was a wakeup call to them.
“We did not have the best of starts and the coach told us not to panic, but to kick on and play well,” said Phiri.
Just like his teammate Sichone, Phirir has been chosen to play in the tournament All-Star side.
“This tournament will certainly open doors for me. I did not expect to be selected in the All-Star team, but it is means that I did something that the selectors liked,” the youngster from Ndola concluded.