Expert View: Debacle in Maputo – What next?
When the final whistle was blown at Estadio do Zimpeto in Maputo yesterday; my phone started ringing non-stop from people who wanted to pick my thoughts on the result in Maputo and the Way Forward for Zambian Football. The question of whether this executive stays or not is not for me to answer but is the prerogative of the FAZ councilors to make that call. They are the ones who entered into that covenant at Moba in 2016 with the current Executive and if in the view of the councilors, the current Executive has met the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), then, they will be retained.
However, as a member of the greater stakeholders group, made up of 17 million Zambians united across the political, religious, colour and gender divide; I can add my K2 worth contribution to the discourse without talking about personalities
The result in Maputo was a culmination of several factors; negative and positive that we did not address early enough and instead waited for fate to sort us out.
Motions aside, what we need now is a paradigm shift in the way we manage our football and since we have probably run out of drawing boards, another approach will help. Those entrusted with authority to make decisions on our football need to be more accommodating to views from different people. There is nothing as dangerous as taking a ‘know it all’ attitude in football management. Football humbles the proud.
Through my lenses, I saw downward spiral in our fortunes as a Southern Africa football giant when we failed to qualify to AFCON 2017. Thereafter, our U17 girls lost to Botswana in a world cup qualify, despite taking a healthy lead at home. We closed that year on a low when our U20 boys got booted out in the first round of the COSAFA Cup that we were hosting in Kitwe. The signal was very visible – I voiced concern and called for a Football indaba. Unfortunately; I was a lone voice in the wilderness and was ignored. Fast forward that to 2018 and we had a double tragedy of being ejected in the qualifiers of the AFCON U17 boys and U20 boys. This was also followed by the failure of 3 out of 4 Zambian clubs to progress beyond the first round of the CAF Inter club championship. Again I voiced out for an indaba to discuss football, but I was ignored. It even went to the extent of one gentleman who thinks and behaves as if he is a member of the Presidency to call me and accuse me of harboring sour grapes against the current FAZ Executive. Why should I display sour grapes when I had tested “Sweet grapes” in 2012 as the Head of Delegation to AFCON?
The Indaba I called for (and is still calling for) is beyond personalities and is ostensibly to chart the way forward for Zambian football over a 10-year period and come up with a Master Plan. The planning horizon goes beyond the term of the current Executive but provides a strong foundation for our football development in the next 4 editions of AFCON and 2 editions of World Cup. Currently, FAZ does not have a strategic plan and in my view we could use the FIFA Needs Assessment report as a basis since that was a well thought out piece of work which for some reason has not seen light of the day due to pressure of achieving immediate results at the expense of the future (and due to football politics considerations). Now that the future has caught up with us in a harsh way, we need to handle it by the horns. It would have been good to discuss even the proposed league restructuring in tandem with the Master Plan for football development. Hope this time around, my proposal won’t be ignored again because going for Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers using the same approach as we used for AFCON 2017 and AFCON 2019 qualifiers will be suicidal.
Zambia is blessed with football brains whose valuable contributions and experience at such an Indaba can be tapped into. We have Hon. Munaile, Mr kasengele, Mr Chiti, Mr Kasunga, Mr Chitembeya, Mr Kamwambi etc who have been there before and experienced success and failure and can provide introspection and valuable lessons.
After all is said and done; I still commiserate with Sven Vandenbroeck who was very brave enough to accept the poisoned chalice we handed over to him. The fact that we lost our first game at home to Mozambique under the previous coach made it difficult for him to navigate successfully our campaign in Group K, which was supposedly an easy group for us.
Whether, Sven stays or not, the jury is still out.
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