TAMALE - Zambia are fired up to get their Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Ghana off to a good start at the expense of Sudan in a Group C match in Kumasi today at (9.30pm SA time).
The Chris Katongo-led Chipolopolo are one of the four southern Africa representatives who have qualified for the tournament along with Bafana Bafana, Namibia and Angola.
Katongo, the nuggety former Jomo Cosmos striker who is now based in Denmark, is upbeat that the 67th- ranked Zambia will tear to pieces the Sudanese, who are 94th on the Fifa rankings.
The Sudanese, who caused a major upset by beating Tunisia in their final qualifying match, are making their first appearance in the competition after three decades.
"It will be a tough match, especially playing against a team that you know very little about. We are professionals, our plan is to go all out for a comprehensive victory," Katongo said.
"We have done our homework for the tournament and are looking forward to going to the knockout stages.
"Doing well in this tournament will also help us in our preparations to qualify for the 2010 World Cup."
Patrick Phiri, Zambian caretaker coach, said: "Everybody in the team is looking forward to the game against Sudan, we won't underestimate them. For now we are all focused on the group stages."
Besides Katongo, the Zambians have his younger brother Felix and former Orlando Pirates midfielder Isaac Chansa, who is playing for Helsingborg in Sweden They are all expected to trouble the Sudanese.
On the other hand, Sudan will pin their hopes on Abdelhamid Amari, who was their star player when their Under-23s won last month's East and Central African Senior Challenge in Tanzania.
They also have Faisal Agab, their captain, who leads from the front and forms a great partnership with Hytham Tambal.
Agab has netted six times in the qualifiers.
Sudan coach Mohamed Abdallah has selected his 23- member squad from only two clubs - league champions and 2007 African Champions League semifinalists Al Hilal and cup winners Al Merreikh.
Twelve of the players are from Al Hilal and the rest from Al Merreikh, who upstaged Al-Hilal 1-0 to clinch the domestic cup.
In the first Group C match in Kumasi Egypt take on Cameroon at 7pm in what is expected to be a thriller.
What makes this clash more exciting is that the Egyptian and Cameroonian players and officials almost exchanged blows on a flight from Accra to Kumasi on Saturday night.