Milutin Sredojevic's men will come into the tournament with high hopes as defending champions, while their opponents' confidence took a knock as they were defeated 3-1 by Eswatini in their opening game of the group stage.
Zambia come into their first game of this year's COSAFA Cup with a degree of confidence, despite failing to reach the upcoming African Cup of Nations as the qualification campaign came to a close in March.
Sredojevic's men were always fighting from behind after losing their first two qualifying games, but they were given hope by a 2-1 win over Botswana as Enock Mwepu and Collins Sikombe got on the scoresheet after Tumisang Orebonye put their opponents ahead.
Their qualification hopes then took another huge hit as a Moshe Gaolaolwe goal handed Botswana a 1-0 win in the following game, and Zambia fell just short despite two impressive results to round off the group, firstly drawing 3-3 with leaders Algeria as Clatous Chama got on the scoresheet between two penalties scored by Patson Daka.
The Chipolopolo then finished with a 2-0 win over Zimbabwe thanks to another Daka brace, but a four-point gap between the sides going into the game meant Zambia were unable to leapfrog their opponents and move into the top two to book their place in the tournament.
Nonetheless, they finished the latest round of international fixtures in a strong manner, defeating Sudan 1-0 in a friendly as Amity Shamende netted a late goal.
Coming in as the defending champions having lifted the trophy in 2019, Zambia will be confident of putting another strong COSAFA Cup run together this year, as they aim to secure their sixth title.
They take on a Lesotho side who will aim to bounce back from a disappointing defeat in their opening game, with what would be an impressive victory on Thursday.
The Crocodiles came into the tournament in a concerning run of form, having failed to win an international game since they defeated South Africa in 2019.
They had a disappointing start to the group stage too, as Thabo Senong's men fell to a 3-1 defeat in Gqeberha on Tuesday at the hands of Eswatini.
Lesotho were always fighting an uphill battle as they had to play with 10 men for over 80 minutes after Jane Thaba-Ntso's seventh-minute red card, and their opponents would take the lead late in the first half through Felix Badenhorst.
Senong's men quickly levelled the game though, as Tumelo Khutlang netted the equaliser on the stroke of half time, but Eswatini would go back ahead through Khethokuhle Mkhontfo on the hour mark before Fanelo Mamba added their third in the final 15 minutes to seal all three points.
With three games left to play in the group stage, the Crocodiles will need to ensure they do not suffer consecutive defeats if they are to stand a good chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
While Zambia are without several key players such as new Leicester City forward Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu, who recently moved from Red Bull Salzburg to Brighton & Hove Albion, they still boast an impressive squad coming into this tournament.
In the absence of Daka, the line will likely be led by Brian Mwila, who has netted eight goals in 11 appearances for his nation.
They have plenty of experience and quality in midfield, with the likes of Salulani Phiri, Augustine Mulenga, Gamphani Lungu and Roderick Kabwe all plying their trade in the South African domestic top flight.
Lesotho come into Thursday's game without attacker Jane Thaba-Ntso, who will serve a suspension after his red card in the opening game.
Tumelo Khutlang will keep his place in the side after he found the net to draw Lesotho level in the opening defeat to Eswatini.
Zambia possible starting lineup:
Sanjase; Chepeshi, Chanda, Shamujompa, Chiluya; Phiri, Sakala; Kabwe, Mulenga, Lungu; Mwila
Lesotho possible starting lineup:
Moerane; Malane, Makepe, Lerotholi, Sello; Bereng, Lebokollane; Khutlang, Fothoane, Mari; Motebang
We say: Zambia 2-0 Lesotho
Zambia will aim to get off to a strong start in their defence of the COSAFA Cup, and their talented squad should have enough to get past a Lesotho side hit by a disappointing defeat in the opening game.
Even without two of their main stars, the Chipolopolo will still more than fancy their chances on Thursday as they look to advance at the top of the group.