Zambia largely impressed at the start of the 2012 AFCON, winning their group after taking seven points from three games, hence the Chipolopolo have got to be considered favourites in this clash. Sudan scraped into the quarter-finals after the lucky victory over Burkina Faso, and they now need to show a massive improvement in order to win this tie.
Chipolopolo proving their worth
Zambia may not have been considered one of the strongest national teams in Africa at the start of the new millennium, but this team have seen a major uptrend in fortunes ever since Herve Renard took over the national team. Led by players like Felix and Chris Katongo, Isaac Chansa and Jacob Mulenga, the Chipolopolo impressed at the 2010 AFCON in Angola, but were very unlucky not to go past the quarter-finals. With new stars Nathan Sinkala, Emmanuel Mayuka and Stophira Suznu added to the exsiting pool of talent, Zambia largely impressed at the 2012 AFCON, beating Senegal and Equatorial Guinea and only sharing spoils with Libya in the group stage. Herve Renard’s side have been showing very consistent performances at this tournament, hinting that they could maybe go all the way and I seriously doubt a side like Sudan will cause them big problems. In my humble opinion, Sudan are weaker than all the sides Zambia faced during group stage.
Midfielder Cliford Mulenga has been sent home for breaking the curfew, but that shouldn’t be a problem as he isn’t normally considered a first team regular.
Lucky, lucky Sudan
During the 50s and 60s, Sudan were a real force to be reckoned with in African football, and after second-place finishes in 1959 and 1963, they even managed to win the AFCON in 1970. However, the national team have been on the downtrend ever since and they are now struggling to return to old glory days. Sudan failed to qualify for 13 successive AFCON tournaments before finally making it to Ghana in 2008, where they ended the competition with three defeats and with no goals scored. The Falcons of Jediane then missed out on the 2010 AFCON in Angola, before finally qualifying for the competition being held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. After losing to Ivory Coast in their opening game, Sudan were very lucky to get four points from next two games after being outplayed by both Angola and Burkina Faso, and they managed to qualify for the quarter-finals only thanks to a superior goal difference to Angola. Looking at their group stage displays, I don’t see how they are going to prevent very good Zambia side from winning this game.
Najem Eldin Abdalla misses out through injury, and he is the only unavailable player at the moment.
Zambia have been brilliant in group stage and they are expected to continue the rich vein of form and finally qualify for the semi-finals. Sudan, on the other hand, didn’t even deserve to come this far, and I am pretty sure this will be the end of the road for the Falcons of Jediane.
Our prediction: Home win
Odds: 1.83 (5/6)
Bookmaker: William Hill