Zambia have been the most successful side in COSAFA Castle Cup history with the remarkable record of missing out on the semi-finals just twice in the last two decades.
Chipolopolo have claimed a joint record four titles in the Southern African championship, the most recent on home soil in 2013, but also played in a further four finals where they have come up just short of taking home the silverware.
Coach George Lwandamina will hope to add to that number of COSAFA Castle Cup victories when he leads the side at the 2016 tournament in Namibia from June 11-25.
That would banish recent memories of failure in the COSAFA Castle Cup staged in South Africa last year, when a strong squad were surprisingly ousted in the quarterfinals of the main Cup competition by eventual winners Namibia in a penalty shoot-out after the teams had played to a 0-0 draw.
The only other time the team has failed to make the semi-finals was in 2000 when they were stunned by Lesotho, also losing out on penalties after playing to a goalless stalemate.
For the rest, they have always found themselves at the business end of the competition and their four trophy wins is matched only by Zimbabwe, who have missed out on the semi-finals on six occasions.
Zambia’s COSAFA Castle Cup wins came in the first two tournaments, 1997 and 1998, as well as 2006 and 2013.
They were in fact unbeaten in their first 11 COSAFA Castle Cup matches before finally losing 1-0 to Angola in Lusaka in the 1999 semi-finals.
That was the first of only six defeats in 45 matches for Chipolopolo, not including exits on post-match penalties, the best record of any COSAFA Castle Cup nation.
Their only other losses have come against Malawi (2002), Zimbabwe (2005 & 2009), a South African President’s XI (2008) and Malawi (2015) in the Plate final last year.
How much better their tournament record might look had they not picked up the unhappy habit of losing COSAFA Castle Cup finals between 2004 and 2009.
They appeared in the decider on five occasions in that period, but lost four of those to Angola (on penalties), Zimbabwe twice and the South African President’s XI.
Their only previous visit to Windhoek came in the very first tournament in 1997 when they played to a 1-1 draw with Namibia, David Siame giving Zambia the lead before Mohammed Ouseb equalised for the Brave Warriors from the penalty-spot.
It was the match that sealed Zambia the title in that inaugural season when the tournament was played in a round-robin format and Namibia needed a victory to take the trophy.
Zambia’s leading scorer in the COSAFA Castle Cup remains Collins Mbesuma, who netted four goals in the 2005 tournament, to go with a further strike when he played two years earlier.
Other leading names to have scored for them in the COSAFA Castle Cup include the legendary Rotson Kilambe, Christopher Katongo, James Chamanga and Rainford Kalaba.