Game ON! With BENEDICT TEMBO
SO, ZAMBIA finished runners-up of the COSAFA Castle Cup Plate event after losing 0-1 to Namibia on Friday evening.
This was after losing to Swaziland in the semi-finals of the event last Sunday.
While losing is part of the game, the mis-fortunes that the Chipololopo have encountered are self-inflicted.
One of the reasons for the poor run, off course, has to do with the national team not having a full-time coach.
But the biggest reason is the poor selection of the team by the coaches.
For instance, most of the players who travelled to the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup tournament were not the countryâ€™s best players.
It is very clear that there is a disconnection between the selection of players and their performance in the league.
Players who hardly play at their clubs are the ones being favoured by national team coaches.
This is perpetuated by the so-called assessments of players through the weekly camps which have been nothing but a financial drain on the part of the Football Association of Zambia.
How many goals has, for instance, Festus Mbewe scored this season, how many games has he played?
Why is their emphasis on Benedict Chepeshi and Boyd Mkandawire, who are not favourites at their clubs?
Why is Patson Daka over-selected ahead of other deserving players?
Daka is in every national team, starting from Under-20, Under-23 to senior national team. Is he the only striker this country has?
FAZ should review the selection process of the national team to retain the integrity of the Chipolopolo, otherwise, oversight by some coaches is not only embarrassing FAZ but the country as a whole.
Now that the COSAFA tournament is over and the 2018 World Cup draws are out, it calls for a sober reflection of the Chipolopolo objectives.
Group B in which Zambia has been drawn with Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria calls for serious planning and not finger pointing.
This country has enough ammunition to compete favourably if the best talent is made available to line-up for the Chipolopolo.
Besides talent, I think there is also need to calibrate certain positions and players to respond to the countryâ€™s aspirations.
For instance, Stophila Sunzu looks stiff for the central position role and it is time he got tried in being considered for the central midfield role while foreign-based players such as Lineker Mwiikisa, Lewis Macha of UniÃ£o Desportiva do Songo in Mozambique and others must be called.
They are the ones worth weekly assessments since their leagues are on recess. With proper planning, Zambia will survive the so-called Group of Death and crash the party in Russia.
City of Lusaka, new contract
City of Lusaka Football Club on Friday signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Forli Limited.
The deal, back-dated to June 1, 2016, will see the Woodlands Stadium-based outfit, earn K50,000 per month with payment of salaries and winning bonuses to the technical bench and the players.
The club will also receive kit (boots, jerseys, bags, track suits). The sponsor will also provide transport.
From the laymanâ€™s point of view, this looks like a deal the team dubbed City of Lusaka 1970 had been waiting for.
Given the problems the team has undergone since the withdrawal of sponsorship by Cavmont Bank almost two decades ago, the deal looks good.
But a critical look at the deal reveals some flaws because, for instance, how did the sponsor arrive at the K50,000 as the monthly sponsorship fee?
It is also not clear as to why the deal was back-dated to June 1. Does it mean the club already received a down payment?
If so, how has that down payment been utilised if it has not already been exhausted by refunds to club officials for having bankrolled the team during the month of June?
Another question that begs answers is how City arrived at that sponsorship and Forliâ€™s interest in City.
I am aware that the deal signals a long term relationship between City and Forli, who developed East Park Mall on University of Zambia premises.
I take it that Forli intend to build a shopping mall at Woodlands Stadium â€“ which is long overdue.
Such a deal has been in the offing for some time and teething problems only arose just when the deal was about to materialize.
I am therefore of the view that negotiations are on-going in the back-ground to facilitate the development of the Woodlands Stadium space.
While these negotiations are on-going, City must have done their homework to ensure that the deal with Forli will stand the test of time.
I also hope that the deal with Forli has not been cast in stone but will be a platform for attracting more sponsors considering that the K50,000 deal is a drop in the ocean.
To me, this should have been either a weekly or bi-weekly sponsorship looking at how expensive it is to run football in this economy.
But for a start, it is good because a bird in hand is worth 10 in the bush.
Going forward and going by the profile of Forli as the developer of Great East Mall, a lot is expected from them.
This includes rehabilitating or reforming Woodlands Stadium to international standards starting next year, especially that Zambia will be hosting the Under-20 African Youth Championship.
The refurbishment of Woodlands Stadium should include building a training ground for the team.
I also expect Forli to give a facelift to City Club, whose standards have fallen to unimaginable levels and it probably explains why few people hang out there.
The clubhouse was a marvel during the reign of Simataa Simataa as chairman and hordes of high-profile people patronised it.
Off course times have changed because some members have opened their own joints but it is not the reason the bathrooms at the facility have no running water.
It is also not the reason why the roof of the clubhouse should look like it was recently visited by grenades.
Therefore, Forli should be alive to the expectations of the City hopeful and the entire soccer community.
There also ought to be disclosure about Forliâ€™s exact intentions at Woodlands Stadium instead of first dangling a carrot to City.
Otherwise, Forli has done well to come to the aid of City, a community club that serves the interest of the community around it.
And it involves harmonising the objectives and legislation governing City Of Lusaka 1970, the football epicentre of Woodlands Stadium, and City of Lusaka Plc 2000, the commercial wing of the club.
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Game ON! With BENEDICT TEMBO