Expert View: Zambia National team, where are we going?
Since winning the 2012 AFCON Zambia has been dwindling in terms of performance and all the coaches we have had Since then have preached to us the same sermon of building a team. Yes their is need to build a team and it must be a continuous process but what has been achieved so far? Nothing tangible has been realised from this continuous building process.
Building is a long process, it can take years but it needs certain ingredients. Coach Wedson Nyirenda’s COSAFA outing for me was not the worst but it was not the best either.I would have loved to see a scenario where he picks a squad full of youngsters who need experience and can be used in future like Shonga and Brian Mwila yes not Donashano Malama, Lubinda Mundia and Chingu Lawrence. What are you exposing Donashano Malama to that he has not been exposed to in the last 5-10 years?.
What is Nyirenda building with players that have less than three years left of their active career?. Zambia’s widest pool of players is at U23 and U20 level but I don’t know if it’s by design or default that the coach gives call ups mostly to players above these age groups.
The dream team may not be a solution but have players ready for the challenge who only need a little guidance. Fashion Sakala, Patson Daka, Emmanuel Banda and Enock Mwepu are ready to take up the mantle but we still want them to gain experience? From where? Let’s start using them in friendly games and those meaningless qualifiers that may come up due to early qualification or disqualification.
George Lwandamina and Honor Janza were building with small boys which did not go well with some sections of fans but what we must understand is that Zambia is a big footballing nation and we can’t be reduced to winning COSAFA Castle Cup as the epitome of our success. At the rate we are moving we will be on the same spot even five years from now.
Zambia needs to admit that it has a problem first and foremost before the problem can be sorted. We are not fooling anyone but ourselves cause we can all see that we don’t have a team, remember a team is more than just having players (who we have in abundance) but something of an oiled machine ready to do it’s work.
The way forward now is to start building on a serious note with U23 and U20 players at the centre of that building process with only performing players outside these age groups to help young boys through because you can’t build with young boys alone.
The coach needs to get tougher on player selection and make sure he has more than two players on each position to create competition. No one should be guaranteed a place in the team without putting in the hard work.
The young players also need to help the coach. The young players need to fight for their places and not expect to receive favours for being young.
The Association can also come in and help with deliberate policies e.g every super league team to feature at least 4 U23 players and one U20 including on the substitute’s list. This will keep the U23 and U20 players active and help in growing our national team football.
Zambia has alot of talented players and if the talent is properly managed the nation will rise again and win their second AFCON and make the long awaited World cup debut but things need to change.
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