Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
YOU are possibly as sick and tired as I am listening to excuses of our national team’s failure at international tournaments in the recent past.
We cannot qualify for the World Cup; we cannot make it to the Africa Cup and cannot go past the preliminary stage despite hosting the Under-20 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Championship.
When you add the fact that we failed to go past the quarter-finals at the African Nations Championship currently underway in Morocco, then you get the reason why I am about to shed a tear.
It’s even more worrying when you consider the teams we are losing to, such as Sudan and others in that low class. Is it not an insult to our pedigree and history to be eliminated by Sudan?
Despite football being dynamic in the recent past, Zambia has retained a respectable place in the upper zones and should never give in to well-established minnows like Sudan.
I watched with a lot of pain as Sudan ran ragged against us, literally twisting our defenders in a match we should have lost by a bigger margin had football been a scientific sport. It could have been worse than 1-0.
I am reluctant to blame coach Wedson Nyirenda for the loss, but I know he could have done better in his team selection in central defence instead of tweaking it 50 percent.
It was not a game for upstarts (fill in the blanks). He should have used the tried and tested guys at the back. I am not a coach and I cannot pretend to be one, but my eyes tell me that Kondwani Mtonga or Donashano Malama could have played in defence instead of greenhorns.
The problem with our team is bigger than Nyirenda. What we saw in Morocco is a result of many factors and I will not join everybody and his dog blaming our exit on a player.
Have we all forgotten that our team camped in Mongu? Do we remember that the Chipolopolo never had a friendly game worth the name prior to the tournament in Morocco?
Did we all believe that playing Circuit City, or something like that, was good enough for a team preparing for glory at an international competition?
Did I hear someone say we played Orlando Pirates?
So, if we did not have quality friendlies, where did we expect Nyirenda to better understand his players and formations? Good preparations mean a tournament half won.
For record’s sake, Zambia faced top South African sides and some national teams prior to winning the maiden Africa Cup title in Libreville in 2012.
If we do not change the way we do things, we should not expect good results.