Blog: What’s the way forward after disappointing CHAN exit
The Zambian National soccer team of locally-based players arrived back from their disappointing CHAN outing following a 3-1 drubbing at the hands of defending champions and eventual winners Morocco at the quarter-final stage much to the disappointment of many soccer-loving Zambians including the provincial minister who asked for the removal of the current FAZ Executive. Let me start by dissecting the role of FAZ as far as the tournament was concerned.
The role of the Football Association of Zambia, in this case, was to ensure that camping, traveling logistics, incentivizing players, arranging preparatory matches, and other minor roles which I will not spend to explain were fulfilled.
The Chan Squad went into camp in mid-December to start preparations for the Cameroon tournament. The team started with the All-Stars Vs The Rest which saw fans calling for the inclusion of certain players after the rest outplayed Micho’s boys for most of the game. The Team immediately left for Yaoundé where they played Four High profile matches against Niger, Uganda, Cameroon, and Libya. It’s worth noting that we are living under difficult conditions and matches are difficult to arrange as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. My immediate question is; Did the Football Association of Zambia fulfill its role in the CHAN Cause?
My response is that I can’t recall when the National team was so adequately prepared for a tournament. Yes FAZ played its role.
TECHNICAL BENCH & THE TEAM
The writing was on the wall before the team boarded that flight to Yaoundé. I watched the All-Stars VS the Rest match where a hurriedly assembled Wedson Nyirenda side almost embarrassed the team at Nkoloma stadium. The Rest looked a more coordinated side with crisp passing of the game which left Fans wondering whether they had just been hurriedly assembled. The strength of Zambian football is on the skill, short passes, and fluid coordinated football. However, it’s the rest that played the Zambian way much to the excitement of fans at the stadium. The team left for Cameroon where they played Niger and threw away a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3. They lost to the Cranes of Uganda in the second match by two goals to nil. In the third match, the team bounced back with a 2-0 whipping of hosts Cameroon before winding up with a 1-1 draw against the desert knights of Libya. At the tournament proper, the Chipolopolo kicked off with a 2-0 win over the Taifa Stars of Tanzania in which Striker Emmanuel Chabula scored what was arguably the goal of the tournament. The Chipolopolo had to dig deep in stoppage time to draw with the Syli National of Guinea 1-1 before battling to a goalless draw against the Brave Warriors of Namibia and qualify to the Quarterfinals as the second-best team in our group. The Chipolopolo bought its ticket back home after a 3-1 thumping at the hands of the Atlas Lions of Morocco in a match that saw Zambia play with a man down after Zacharia Chilongoshi was shown a red card by Burundi match officials. If you watched all the matches at the tournament, you will agree with me that the Micho led boys were never inspiring. The team looked so disjointed as though they were never in camp. Aimless high balls even when our opponents had aerial strength, To Whom It May Concern, passes, the slow game as though they had jet lag. This is the Chipolopolo that I watched at CHAN. Its quite surprising that we played this way especially that in Micho, we have one of the best gaffers on the continent. I was one of those that cried for the hiring of the Serbian wolf having seen how he transformed Rwanda, Uganda, and Orlando pirates. You would think that it was Barcelona playing if you ever watched the Pirates that was coached by Micho. This has not been the case here so far.
WHAT NEXT FOR CHIPOLOPOLO?
The Afcon qualifiers resume in a month and certainly, this will be a measurement of character for Micho himself if I were to borrow his own words. Chipolopolo must beat Algeria here in Lusaka and Zimbabwe in Harare to buy that ticket to Afcon. It’s a very tall order looking at the way the team has performed. Micho’s marriage with chipolopolo will be determined by the performance of the team in those two matches. Zambians love good football and it must come quickly before fans start calling for his blood. I certainly do not agree with him that the results are a reflection of the strength of our league. Well, I need to remind him that the Zambian league is ranked 6th in Africa. That being the case, we can forgive him on the morocco result but we still need answers on why we drew with Guinea, Namibia, Niger, Libya, and why we lost to the cranes of Uganda.
Going forward, I expect Micho to swallow his pride and recall the following players for up-coming matches 1.Clatous Chama
The Squad has played a total of nine games including the stars match. They scored 11 goals and conceded 11. This is not good enough. From the Chan team, I only expect to see Allan Chibwe, Luka Lungu, Zacharia Chilongoshi Spencer Sautu, and Adrian Chama. The rest of the players have failed the test.
If Micho’s team does not improve not only results but performance as well during the march qualifiers, it would be time that we parted company with him. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. Make no mistake, Micho is a top gaffer but he must be reminded that the HONEYMOON IS OVER. We need to focus beyond the Afcon qualifiers as the World cup Qualifiers where we seem to be grouped with teams of equal strength are around the corner. We can beat Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, and Mauritania but preparations must start now.
CHIPOLOPOLO BACK HOME
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