Zambia U20 coach Beston Chambeshi has hailed the fighting spirit of his team ahead of their quarter-final clash with Italy at the Fifa U20 World Cup.
Despite being African champions, the Junior Chipolopolo entered the tournament with huge question marks hanging over their title aspirations.
But after sealing a place in the last eight with a dramatic 4-3 extra time win over Germany on Wednesday, Chambeshi was full of praise for his team.
He credited the players’ fighting spirit for their triumph over the Germans which set up Monday’s quarter-final showdown against Italy.
“It’s amazing and I’m happy to see this team go this far. I’m proud of my team and my technical staff,” said the Zambia U20 coach.
“The most important thing is that we have character in the team, we have players who’ve got that heart [to fight on.”
Indeed, it is testament to Zambia’s battling qualities that they overcame a late fightback from Germany to advance to the next round.
During the group stage, the Zambians also fought back from 2-0 down to beat Iran 4-2 and book their place in the second round.
“This is a tournament where you can’t run from any team so what we need is to prepare well and face whichever team comes our way.
“For sure we have to respect every team and they also have to respect us.”
However, Chambeshi admitted that a leaky defense has been been the least pleasing aspect of their remarkable run in South Korea.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that we are conceding goals, we can’t run away from that, it is football.
“Zambia is a football loving nation; you give them a win and everyone is happy!”