Expert View – Zambia’s road to Qatar the journey starts now
Having missed out on the on-going FIFA World Cup and just by a whisker, Zambian’s have turned their attention to the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.
There is a saying – Failing to prepare is actually preparing to fail, Something Zambia needs to reflect on alot if the dream of a maiden appearance at the biggest sporting event on the planet stands any chance of becoming reality in 2022.
German football was booming ‘obviously’ before their recent disastrous World Cup outing, reaping the rewards of the strategy drawn up after their dismal performances at Euro 2000, when Germany finished bottom of their group. Forced into an overhaul of youth football, the DFB, the Bundesliga and the clubs decided that the development of more technically proficient homegrown players would be in everyone’s best interests. This led to the creation of academies right across the top two divisions. Germany went on to win Euro 2008,2012 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
26 of the players Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund named in their Uefa squads in 2013 season were homegrown and eligible to play for Germany. More than half of those players came through the DFB’s talent development programme, which was introduced in 2003 with the aim of identifying promising youngsters and providing them with technical skills and tactical knowledge at an early age.
Covering 366 areas of Germany, this impressive initiative caters for children aged 8 to 14 and is served by 1,000 part-time DFB coaches, all of whom must hold the Uefa B licence and are expected to scout as well as train the players.
Back home when the late Keagan Mumba was head coach at Super League side Zanaco he would take time off his busy schedule to visit youth teams in Chawama Area and just to impart some of his knowledge in the youngsters, You can imagine how much it meant to a ten or twelve year old playing on a bumpy dusty pitch pitch in Kuku (Chawama, Lusaka) receiving instructions from a high profile coach.
Coming up with a system like that of the DFB can not be done at once and abruptly because it needs alot of finances and time to perfect and execute properly but regular football clinics might be a starting point . It’s high time people like national team technical director, Moses Sichone were put to good use. He has alot of experience playing at the highest level and with his qualifications he can co-ordinate the football clinics with other high profile coaches.
A properly thought through plan needs to be formulated where the expectations and what needs to be done are outlined. Nothing happens by accident in life, Football is no different and it’s not even rocket science.
The Football Association of Zambia can and needs to engage all stake holders to come up with a workable road map towards qualifying to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup which will mean everything from that point onwards will be done to achieve that one goal and the rest will be secondary to that objective.
For anything to happen implementation has to be executed with perfection otherwise it will just be another failed idea. Everyone has to buy into that idea to make sure it achieves it’s intended purpose.
A SERIOUS COACH
By now it’s clear Zambia does not lack players but serious coaches who can guide the team to the very top. The nationality and colour of the coach is of no consequence as long as he has the ability to deliver the desirable results.
The new should be one who is willing to work with all the good players available. There is no excuse for a coach who leaves out a performing Evans Kangwa in the Russian League and he is actually a key player who puts in 90 minute shifts and prefers a bench warmer from Zesco United or Zanaco and then goes and gets exposed at a tournament.
A coach calls players who he can work with/can fit in his plans to the national team but a coach should not be stubborn as to stick to his system or philosophy that’s not working but rather if such a scenario occurs, He must be ready to change his philosophy to play to the strengths of the best players available.
With the Association set to announce the appointment of Belgian coach Sven Vanderbroek it’s a hope of everything soccer loving Zambian that he has the tools to take Zambia back to the top.
A DELIBERATE YOUTH POLICY
The football Association of Zambia can come up with a deliberate policy to encourage teams to use young players in league matches helping them to gain the much needed exposure and experience at a young age.
They can find a way of motivating clubs to do that by giving some form of reward to a team for using player (s) below a certain age ( e. g U20) . This will increase the number of young players available for national team selection with the necessary exposure and experience. This will prolong the lifespan of national team players. Does it not hurt that the best the country got out of Winston Kalengo was just one single good year? (2016) if nothing is done then this will be the order of the day.
IDENTIFY TALENT AT YOUNG AGE
In Manchester United’s striker Romelu Lukaku’s story “I have got some things to say” he talks of how he was a failing to score for Belgium despite being prolific at Club level when he was between 17 and 19 years old.
Chipolopolo striker Patson Daka who everyone is now so happy with and proud to talk about was insulted not so long ago but today he is one of the best young talents on the continent.
The point is not about Lukaku’s misfiring or the insults Patson was showered with but the fact that players need time to develop and mature. Playing at national level comes with its own pressures like getting used to playing in front of a huge crowd, high level matches etc.
If players are exposed to such levels of football at a young age the country will have a big pool of players to choose from with a long life span expected not just after one two years a player is on their decline just because they were identified late. This is obviously a long term thing and goes beyond just qualifying to Qatar.
LIMIT ON FOREIGN PLAYERS IN MATCH DAY SQUAD
The MTN/FAZ Super League has developed in recent past and has become one of the best leagues on the continent with huge amounts of monies being splashed around.
This has caused a rise in the number of foreign players trekking to Zambia to play for any of the 20 Super League teams, Some are even playing for lower tier sides with Congo being the major contributor of those players.
Just last year, Team Kopala (Buildcon) lined up an all foreign starting line up. Obviously the increase in foreign players has contributed to the development of the league but what’s the incense of having a developed league when your national team can’t benefit and keeps coming up short at major tournaments.
In China after the influx of foreign players they came up with a limit to how many (5) can be in a match day squad of one team because they want the league to develop but not at the expense of sidelining their local talent.
Zambian players need to be given priority as the country looks to have a balanced development between the league and the national team but of course they also need to work extra hard.
The road to Qatar is long and bumpy but with a clearly thought through plan well implemented it’s very achievable but the preparations must start now or else it’s never going to happen.
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