Sunday, July 14, 2024

Mulonga, Ponga weigh in on the state of football debate

Former FAZ president Teddy Mulonga says success in football does not happen overnight as evidenced by the 2012 winning squad that was groomed over many years.

And former FAZ general secretary Ponga Liwewe says the Andrew Kamanga executive has done well on all counts except with the senior national team.

Featuring on Hot FM’s Beyond the Headlines program on Wednesday evening, Mulonga said Kamanga had endured a five-year spell interference in the management of the game which has destabilized his tenure.

During the program dubbed “The State of Zambian Football”, Mulonga who was twice FAZ president and also ministry of sports permanent secretary when Zambia won the Africa Cup in 2012 said the Africa Cup of Nations success was bred from the investment in junior teams that started at under-17 level.

“People talk about the team that won in 2012. How long did it take us to develop that team? The majority of that team had been in the under-17 coached by Simataa Simataa and at the same time Simataa was also coach of the under-23. When we took over in 2004 and we had failed to qualify to the 2004 AFCON, we started building from those same players, those players were taken from the under-20, 23 and then brought into the senior team. There was that progression into the team,” he said.

“This is why you find that the boys that came and won Stoppilla Sunzu, Emmanuel Mayuka, Chisamba Lungu, where did they come from? All these structures need to be operating and strong in order for you to come and perform at the highest level.”

He added: “We had a very strong under-23 which was captained by Felix Sunzu elder brother to Stoppilla, we also had u-17 captained by Yoram Mwila and an u20 side. We had the progression of players from one stage to another.”

Mulonga said it also mattered where the bulk of the Zambian players played their football.

He noted that while the local league had grown to attract foreign players some of the Zambian players trekked to foreign leagues to sit on the bench.

“You can have professionals also but where are they playing? When you talk about West Africans where are they playing? We are not looking at where our players are playing.”

The City of Lusaka Football Club Board chairman said FAZ had set a very high bar in safeguarding resources.

“One thing that we must give credit to him is that all the monies, whatever you get, gate takings are being fully accounted for. I think in sport if you are to attract any worthwhile sponsor, accountability becomes a very critical factor,” he said.

Mulonga who was president in 1998 before being forced out by government forces bounced back in 2004 up to 2008 said sponsorship was trickling down to the membership including lower leagues.

“The levels of corporate sponsorship have risen; I think the clubs are getting a lot more from football than at any other time whether it is SuperSport or any of other sponsors. We have seen also a lot of positive development in the income coming in from the kit sponsorship and what they have floated,” he said.

“I think the assistance is trickling down even to the lowest tier within the football structures. The monies that the champions are getting are much higher than at any other time in the history of football and I know after the Tom Mtine days of the Rothmans and so forth and the sponsorship that we got from KCM at my time. When you compare that sponsorship by KCM to what we have now, that was a drop in the ocean.”He added:

“And of course SuperSport was also initiated during my time, I think Ponga will attest to that when I was down in Johannesburg, we negotiated that, and it was the beginning and I think Andrew has taken it to a higher level.”

Mulonga weighed in on the turbulences that had immersed FAZ in the last five years culminating into a FIFA intervention.

“If you talk about interference, Kamanga has spent the last five years fighting, the government was fighting they wanted him out like yesterday even when the guy was performing,” he said.

Mulonga also advised that local coaches needed to be upskilled to be able to take up the stewardship of national teams.

He noted that some local coaches had previously performed wonders with national teams and deserved more support.

“We seem to be weighing more on some expatriate coaches but we have also had some Zambian coaches who have excelled. The team that perished was coached by Godfrey Chitalu and Alex Chola. We had Boniface Simutowe, George Sikazwe. The first coach to win a continental trophy was Fred Mwila with Power Dynamos. So we do have that pedigree,” he said.

“The first coach to take us to the under-20 world cup was Patrick Phiri, the next one was George Lwandamina and then Beston Chambeshi. I think you cannot stop, one of the best coaches that this country has produced was Ben Bamfuchile and he qualified to the CAN 2000 without losing a game and winning even in Zaire where Zambia had never won a game before and Madagascar.”

“In Kinshasa we had even been beaten 10-1. But Bamfuchile with the late Obby Kapita and Benjamin Bwalya, may the lord rest their souls, they went and got us a result.”

And Liwewe said the only blemish on the FAZ executive was senior national team missing out on Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

“There is one area where FAZ is not performing as expected, I would say it is the performance of the senior national team. Obviously, you look at the failure to qualify for the three cups of nation which is what seems to be the main bone of contention with the fans,” said the veteran journalist-cum-football administrator.

“All other areas in terms of managing resources, preparation of teams, decentralizing so that football could grow across the country I think all that has been on the right track.”

Liwewe said teams did not decline overnight as was seen by various generations of national teams that had dipped after a boom period.

“Teams do not decline overnight or become a bad country in football overnight. These things take long time. Mr Mulonga for example was there in 1998 and was a little bit unlucky because he found the great generation after the Gabon disaster was a little over the hill now because age was catching up,” he said.

“Zambia then if you look at 98, we were out in the first round, 2000, 2002 and 2004 we failed to qualify. So, we had that dip in Zambian football after a bit of restructuring again we saw a peak begin to come up. Each decade, each passage of time has different environments, or different situations enveloping.”

Liwewe said the going was tougher in the current football environment as teams previously regarded as minnows had improved relying on European based players.

“I was looking at additional statistics, people say that Cape Verde, Comoros and Gambia are there, where is Zambia? Look at the records of those countries, I will give you an example of the Comoros, 22 of those players in that team are born in France and playing in that country. Similar situation with Gambia, Cape Verde (16 are born in Portugal). That is the calibre of players we are now facing with teams we did not consider in the past,” he said.

He said Zambia needed more than just three players playing in the top leagues to reclaim their status among the elite of the continental game.


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  1. We have Zambia players playing abroad and born abroad. Why has FAZ been sleeping? Besides that the Zambian Super League is full of useless and average foreigners pilling in ZPL, taking places of talented and young Zambian players. FAZ should resolve this issue

  2. Government interference is our greatest enemy! The former minister of sport Mulenga played a divisive role as far as football matters were concerned. Firstly the appointment of a new coach was delayed and that left a few months b4 internatioal engagements! Secondly Kamanga spent more time dealing with Fifa in an effort to clear the court cases brought by Kalu surrogates sponsored by the same minister. In short Kamanga was set up to fail in the last 6 years. In any case govt involvement can be seen in case of Nigeria and Egypt, they also failed to qualify on 3 consecutive times! Check the records!
    A word of caution; the current minister Nkandu appears to be playing ‘GOD’ with football issues! Someone has to hit his knuckles b4 it’s too late.

  3. The article is too long. Just like the long wait for the national team game to show good results.
    The panelist will never divide support nor people…
    Its our’ sport, we don’t get permission to support the team…that’s what we inherited. The perished did not die in vein – among them where coaches, journalists, administrators and players. When we play our part, we should never overlook that part of history. The team must know…the administrators must know…they wanted to win…i saw them play to win football games and we had 17yrs unbeaten run at independence stadium. The body language, gestures and all was all about winning and competing fiercely for the glory of “mother Zambia”, said Mr. Liwewe MHSRIP. All agreed to the sentiments, it was never about a single individual…

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