Opinion: Explaining the exclusion of Triple C and why Micho summoned Augustine Mulenga and Justin Shonga
We need first to understand the plans the coach has for the back to back Cameroon 2022 AFCON qualifiers against Botswana with regards to the tactics he is going to employ and the players who can suit his style of play
To start with, Micho knows very well the task ahead. He knows the importance of what these two qualifying matches provide to Zambia’s hopes of appearing at the 33rd edition of the African national team’s top football showpiece.
The coach wants to be direct in these two coming matches. He is likely to use more attacking formations were more attacking-minded players with goal-scoring instincts have to come to the party. Zambia is likely to be attacking with seven players with three taking reigns of defensive roles. Why is the coach likely to use such a formation?, the answer is simple, Head to the head will be vital in these qualifications, we have so far lost with five goals and two respectively.
Zambia has to bag in more goals in the opposition net so coach micho is likely to use the Botswana game to work out his attacking formation. If Zambia picks maximum points in the Botswana games then hopes will be very alive, all that will be needed is to beat Zimbabwe with more goals than the ones they scored against us at home.
Those who have watched the games Chipolopolo have played under coach Micho will testify that his tactics are not enterprising ones. He’s not a possession-based coach, he is a reserved tactician. He tells his charges to make use of the best-provided opportunities during the game.
Most goals Zambia has scored have come from the run of play where opponents are caught unaware, the goals have not been coming from build up play and it has paid off mostly. Zambia in the last six games, they’ve scored 11 goals and conceded 6 goals pointing to the fact of having more attacking minded players in the starting berth hence creating some loopholes at the back.
What he does mostly Is to push wingers further upfront tasking them with more responsibility of pulling the trigger at the opposition goal. When Zambian is in the transition of charging forward, he makes fullbacks as creative midfielders no wonder mostly he prefers Lubambo, Chiboni, and Chilongoshi who are modern fullbacks who can create scoring chances for strikers.
What he does is to put only very creative midfielders in the game for better link play. The other winger will be pushed further up front to play behind two strikers. So now when the Chipolopolo is with the ball, he will cautiously tell the two center backs to take a stand of their positions to avoid being caught unaware and the two central midfielders with one allowed to push forward but in a reserved manner unlike in the past were wingbacks could not be allowed to overlap much hence manning a five defense pillar off the ball. Let’s pick out the Malawi game we understand what is being put up here.
In that game, Zambia defended with three to four men on the ball meaning when Zambia launches an attack three would sit out and attacked with seven though one of the seven was more reserved. The fullbacks in the name of Kondwani chiboni and Zachariah chilongoshi are modern fullbacks who overlap hence they are good on the ball than they are off the ball meaning when tracking down the ball from the opposition they find it difficult, they are possession-based fullbacks same with Lubambo who sometimes can fill the right-back role
Then in the midfield, micho played with a double pivot meaning he ought to use two defensive midfielders, the likes of Leonard Mulenga and Kelvin Kapumbu with the former not sitting dip on the middle but provided a bit of firepower up front with only kapumbu sitting dip in the midfield meaning others like kelvin kampamba,chaniza Zulu, kelvin sikombe and Emmanuel chabula all were tasked with full responsibilities of suffocating the opposition. From these four, who is a typical creative midfielder?, only one is and that is Kelvin Kampamba no wonder he has many assists than any other in the games Zambia has played under Micho. This simply explains the point earlier raised of Micho not being a ball possession coach but a reserved coach where he doesn’t need typical creative midfielders to create scoring chances but rather creative midfielders who can play as false forwards. This is what coach Micho has been doing wherever he has gone as a coach and it has worked for him.
Micho is a reserved coach in the sense that he reserves creating more chances for goals, meaning he doesn’t want a game to produce many scoring chances but rather see his boys make any single chance into a goal. In this regard, he will prefer midfielders who can create and score not who can create only. So he reserves creating more scoring chances and having more ball possession for the direct approach was a single chance from a counter-attack turns into a nightmare for the opposition, Micho is a tactical coach
In the other game against South Africa, the same happened where he employed more attacking midfielders with forwarding prowess than creativity with Klings and Evans handed with the task.
Ball possession football requires creativity meaning midfielders should have a mind more of a creator than a goal poacher because the opposing team gets to close all the spaces as they get to be given much time to re-organize themselves as the other team applying ball possession football gets to play a good number of passes and moves before reaching the opposition goal. A team with ball possession football needs to be creative to unlock the opposition defense thereby requiring more creative midfielders to nick in goal scoring opportunities for strikers.
With reserved type football where you allow the opposition to come at you then hit them on counter-attacks, more midfielders with strikers jinx are needed because the opposition team gives has less room to create goal-scoring opportunities as they get to be on the ball for long periods. So a coach will prefer starting midfielders with strikers prowess to provide wider goal-scoring opportunities and this what micho prefers. In the last five games, Zambia has been the second-best in terms of possession.
People have cried foul over the exclusion of clatous Chota Chama and inclusion of Justin shonga and Augustine Mulenga who have not seen much game time at Orlando pirates before joining TTM and Amazulu respectively. What people need to know is that after the five last friendlies Zambia has played, Simba has not performed well and this has lead to some of its board members been axed. How many goals and assist has clatous made at Simba during and after the five friendlies the Chipolopolo have played?.
Clatous Chama in the last five games for Simba has assisted three times with no goal. He assisted the third goal in the demolition of JKT Tanzania, second assist came for the second goal against Kagera sugar with the latest in the game against Mwadui. What micho is looking at is a player who can score and assist because his a direct coach
What micho prefers is to catch napping opponents,he doesn’t like build-up play because to him he thinks it gives the opposition time to re-organize themselves at the back which makes it difficult to put the ball behind their net with his tactics. He looks out for two things in a midfielder, one is the ability to create, and the second is the ability to score of which clatous is more of a creator than a scorer. One reason why maybe he has left Clatous.
Second is competition in the team, Micho looks to prefer Enock Mwepu as the attacking midfielder. Clatous can play on the wings but so can Gamphani who may play as a number seven thereby creating competition in that area.
Gamphani has already bagged several goals this season for Supersport United. Micho uses a double pivot and to that matter, clatous can’t play as a defensive midfielder as a second option but Mwepu can though he also sometimes struggles in that role mostly. So he has opted for mwepu than Chama.
On the other wing Zesco United wing wizard, Kelvin Mubanga Kampamba who has registered two assists and two goals in the five games for Zambia under Micho operates from which can also be occupied by Fashion Sakala
The third reason may be that he doesn’t want to experiment this time around, all the players he has called for camp except mwepu he has worked with them before. Yes, clatous is a professional and can adapt but maybe Micho thinks he would rather pick players he had a feeling with as seeing is believing than using a name. He has picked Mwepu maybe because he had time to watch him as they usually play at night in Austria and the Champions League as compared to the Tanzanian league which mostly host matches during the afternoons as he uses the same time to watch local lads.
During the latest press briefings, Micho said he will be calling seven to twelve foreign-based players as he has been impressed with local lads. He wants to call foreign players who he thinks will come and feature not to sit on the bench as it is costly to bring foreign charges home for the matches because FAZ has to pay for everything. True to his words, he has called only nine foreign-based chipololopolo troops and clatous hasn’t cut as he thinks he won’t have a chance to feature in the back to back games as his avoiding experiments.
Another reason for the exclusion maybe was the news coming from Tanzania media that he was likely not to feature in the game against Yanga due to an injury likely sustained during training session though it was said to be a slight knock, Clatous however featured in the derby.
He has called Augustine Mulenga and Justine Shonga because he has worked with them at Orlando Pirates and if anyone recalls very well, the time Micho was at Pirates these two lads used to be starters, they could assist and bang in goals. Troubles for them came when he ditched pirates for Zamalek.
Remember Micho has no time for experiments this time around. Let’s pick out Justine shonga why he has been picked.
Micho earlier said, his direct meaning is interested in a person who can score. In the last seven games, Justine Shonga has been featured for Zambia, he has scored 6 goals. He scored a late equalizer against Namibia in Windhoek, against Guinea Bissau he scored a second at home before he scored again away, he scored one past Gabon in an international friendly match before putting two past Benin in another friendly match. So micho knows why he has included Justine as he has delivered when given an opportunity on the national team.
Yes, people will say he wasn’t playing regularly in PSL for pirates until he switched to TTM FC but some players deliver at the national team than at a club. A good example is Giroud, he wasn’t a starter at Arsenal and Chelsea but he still featured for the world champions France and delivered. Sometimes coaches see what we don’t see in a player.
Whether Micho resorts to a creative midfield than to that of strikers jinx, then either Gamphani or Augustine will start on the right-wing of midfield with either kelvin kampamba or Fashion starting on their preferred left-wing with Kapumbu and Mwepu partnering in the central midfield than either Evans or Kampamba as a number ten with Justin as a number nine. If he resorts to a reserved type midfield with strikers jinx midfielders then mwepu will start on the right-wing, Leonard, and kampumbu taking the central role with kampamba on the left with Justine shonga as a number nine and either Evans Kangwa or fashion provide support as number ten.
At the back, Zachariah Chilongoshi will start as a left-back with either Lubambo or Chiboni starting on the right-back position with either Benson or Dominic partnering TP Mazembe man in the name of Tandi Mwape.
The options are plenty but we will wait and see what he has for the two Botswana games.
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