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Chipolopolo’s ‘book of faces’

THE Chipolopolo celebrate the 2012 AfCON win.

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
LIKE most soccer fans, I was recently drawn to the news that some old players have been called back to the national team ahead of the Kenya encounter in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on September 6.
It looks like some old player’s names will remain dear to the Chipolopolo as the team struggles to find formidable players who can score goals even when blindfolded.
Yes – some players only know how to kick the ball wide because they can’t see the goal mouth. They are like some people in social football who just get satisfaction in hitting the crossbar when the ball is passed to them.
One of the laughable phrases which typifies such blunt strikers in social football says in vernacular: “Aisha amundipe bola ndiume bimu,” meaning “Pass me the ball so that I can hit the crossbar”.
If you are a soccer freak you would know that there are more rewards in hitting the back of the net than seeking pleasure in hitting the woodwork.
One doesn’t need an explanation with the help of a diagram to know that soccer luminaries like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo earn millions of dollars by scoring goals.
It is true that the Chipolopolo needs strikers, but some old players, as we know them are not the same, if anything they belong to the archives.
To some people, the recall of old players is like loading Facebook with still pictures just for others to look at and say, “Oh, this guy is still around”.
I am sure you know how social media is. Sometimes the postings on Facebook would remind you of your former headmaster whose daughter you made pregnant leading to your expulsion from school.
It is not as if I need old players completely out of Chipolopolo’s “book of faces”. Just like Facebook posts,
Perhaps he wants to make soccer fans see that the once prolific players are not in the same good shape they were in in 2012 when the national team won the Africa Cup.
As I have come to understand it, soccer is not for older people, although someone would say life begins at 40.
Yes, for other things like experiencing pleasurable moments, one would say at 40 you are ready for exploits, but not in football.
In football, at 40 you run the risk of being injured even at the slightest contact with your opponent.
But the worst is failing to score even when the goalkeeper is not standing between the sticks.
As those who go absolutely nuts over football would tell you, playing names or faces is detrimental to a team’s efforts to succeed in competitions.
The recall of some of the old players back to the Chipolopolo fold comes just when the junior teams – under-20 and under-23 have been busy, just like the African Nations Cup squad, which is the competition for locally or home-based players.
So for Chicken to have looked back to the annals of history for the Chipolopolo’s redemption is rather a surprise shock to most fans.
I have checked and verified that the Chipolopolo coaching position is not electable.
If it was, one would have thought Chicken is busy mobilising supporters to help campaign for him.
It may be harsh to judge Lwandamina’s rationale behind the recalling of some old players, but most fans genuinely believe they is need for fresh blood in the team.
Trying to cling on to some old players resulted in the Mbombela disaster exactly after winning the Africa Cup for the first time.
If the tell-tale signs at Mbombela were not enough, the outing to Equatorial Guinea spilled the beans: Old guards should leave.
However, just a game down the line into the Afcon qualifier, Lwandamina has already pressed the panic button in calling for experience, which most fans think has expired.
Now, if it is not vuvuzela Lwandamina wants from some old players, maybe he is secretly looking for an assistant coach.
Maybe, some of the old players have the expertise of giving tips to young players, especially strikers on how they managed to score goals during their time.
Whether the players have replicated their feat since then is for Lwandamina to tell soccer fans.
It is not a secret that some of the old player’s fortunes in foreign leagues are fading going by their failure to hold down regular places for the teams they have been playing for since 2012.
Maybe, Lwandamina needs to be given a chance to show soccer fans the old faces on his Chipolopolo “book of faces”.
Otherwise, for opposition such as Kenya, a combination of the under-20, under-23 and CHAN squads can surely triumph – be it in Nairobi or Lusaka.

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