Zambia winger Clifford Mulenga might be slight of build, but there is no doubting he is imbued with a massive amount of confidence and pride as he looks forward to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada next month.

The pint-sized flyer is one of the key components of the Zambian starting eleven and the quality of his play could prove crucial as the Africans try to pick up some upset results and put in a strong performance in Canada. To hear Mulenga tell it, the land-locked southern African country could well stir up the pot at this summer's world championship - only their second appearance at a word finals.

"If we play the way we did at the African championship in Congo in March, then I think we can go as far as the semi-finals," predicts the articulate Mulenga, a bright and jocular character with a reputation for straight talk. It is down, in large part, to his exquisite wing play that the side managed to finish fourth in the African qualifying section.

Capped at the age of 17 by Zambia at senior level, Mulenga is critical to the hopes of Zambia's youth team as they participate in a FIFA world finals for only the second time, after appearing in Nigeria (U-20) eight years ago.

"I'm very excited, I can't wait for it to happen," enthuses the 20-year-old, who knows full well Group B will be a tough test with the likes of Uruguay and Spain to be bested. "I really hope it is going to be a good experience."

If a good experience is defined by a spot in the semi-finals, Nigeria 1999's failures, when the Zambians lost two group matches and went out in the first round, will be desperately hoping to avoid this time out.

Despite being one of the top players in the team, Mulenga will miss much of the preparations for Canada as he concentrates on an immediate agenda at club level. The jet-heeled flank player is also a key man in the line-up at Pretoria University, a South African first division club who finished third in the standings this season and are set to begin play-offs for promotion to the premier league next week.

"I won't be able to join the Zambian side until the play-offs are finished," he tells That is first on the list for me and when it is finished I will be able to join up with my brothers in the Zambia team."

Mulenga, who has already spent a season with Orgyrte in Sweden and recently was on trial at French Ligue 2 front-runners Caen, says his experience of playing for Zambia at full international level gives him a special responsibility in his side.

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"Ever since I've played for the under-20 side, I've done well for Zambia and obviously a lot of the younger guys look up to me," he said. "Having played for the senior team, I bring a bit more experience to the team and I talk a lot to the others."

Mulenga says he was disappointed he did not crack a chance to play with Caen. "I was in France but they told me they needed a player with a bit more muscle. It was the same in Sweden too. I suppose I've got to eat a bit more food and go to the gym more often," he jokes with a smile.

"The tournament in Canada will be another great stage for me and for the other Zambian players," he wrapped up with a sudden air of seriousness. "I know we can do something in this competition."

Zambia U-20 coach George Lwandamina also has no doubts, even comparing young Mulenga to the country's greatest-ever star, Kalusha Bwalya. "He (Mulenga) has the same sweet left foot as Kalusha did, and I think he has the potential to be just as good as 'Kalu' some day," the boss recently revealed in an exclusive interview with

With pace to burn and ambition to match, Mulenga's lively wing play may just lead the way for Zambia's hopeful charge to the top of the heap up in the Great White North.