Katongo: We can make history
© AFP

Christopher Katongo wants to help make history this year by securing Zambia's place at the FIFA World Cup™ for the first time.

"Just imagine if we qualify for the World Cup, that day might be declared a public holiday in Zambia, it would be crazy," he told FIFA.com. "People back home will be so proud."

When fellow African countries Angola and Togo, formerly regarded as minnows on the continent, qualified for Germany 2006, it infused a new sense of belief and ambition among many of their neighbours. "What Angola did was special for us: they proved to everyone that even if you are regarded as a small football country, you can achieve something big," Katongo explained.

Just imagine if we qualify for the World Cup, that day might be declared a public holiday in Zambia, it would be crazy.
Zambia's Christopher Katongo

"We want to create our own history, we want to revive Zambian football. There is a strong belief in the Zambian camp, inspired by the country's football president and legend Kalusha Bwalya, that the current team will defy odds and qualify for South Africa."

Zambia coach Herve Renard is the man who has been trusted with the task of energizing that sizable dream. "We have assembled a quality team and we believe in them," said the Frenchman.

"But we know that if we want to get to the top, we need to work a bit harder, we need to push ourselves and I don't see why we can't make it to these major competitions. The president (Bwalya) wants this team to succeed and we don't want to let down the country."

Zambia's next South Africa 2010 qualifier will be at home to Rwanda tomorrow and following an admirable draw away to African champions Egypt, their dream may be more realistic than once thought. Victory at the Konkola Stadium in Chililabombw could put them in pole position, depending on what happens in Blida, where Algeria will take on the Egyptians.

"Obviously we need to win each and every game," Katongo said. "For the first time, the World Cup will be held on African soil and to make things even more interesting, it's to be hosted by our neighbours."

Another player who has been instrumental in the Zambian revival is former Portsmouth forward Collins Mbesuma, who has scored some vital goals for Zambia in moments of need. "We have one goal: we want to qualify for the World Cup," he said. "We have a good team here but everyone will have to do his bit. We have to work together as a team."