Football Sport

COSAFA and its football perils

SOCCER REVIEW with STEPHEN PHIRI
I WATCHED rather painfully as Tunisia tore Zimbabwe apart, consequently jettisoning the so-called Warriors out of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations that Gabon is hosting.
Not that Zimbabwe are my favourite – the Chipolopolo are – but the way they were ripped 4-2 by the marauding Carthage Eagles made me feel sorry for our neighbours across the Zambezi River.
That was the second straight loss, having gone down 2-0 to Senegal after pulling a surprise 2-2 draw against Algeria who, by the way, have also been sent home.
Why am I talking about Zimbabwe? Well, they were the only flag bearers in this soccer-mad region that comes under the banner Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA). That is the only reason I watched without any glee.
I am extremely disappointed that COSAFA’s only representatives were knocked out of the prestigious tournament, further diminishing our interest in the showpiece.
The presence of Zimbabwe had somewhat ameliorated for Zambia’s absence but I am now hurt; hurt because even other COSAFA heavyweights such as Angola and South Africa where nowhere near Gabon.
Only a few years ago, COSAFA could send three or four teams to the Africa Cup of Nations and even have a representative at the World Cup.
But things have changed and the pendulum is swinging in the direction of West Africa which has, by my last count, 10 teams in Gabon.
In general, COSAFA should relook at the strategies it has employed to develop football because it is clear that whatever is in place is like improvised mathematics; something like (5-6 = it can’t).
Our collective plans are dud; they can’t work and that’s why we are watching the tournament from our small screens and adopting teams we would ordinarily want in the soccer den.
As Zambia, we are probably at our lowest ebb, and any further downward spiral would have to be declared a national disaster, and a certain Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) called in!
Zambia cannot watch Guinea-Bissau, Togo and many such countries at the Africa Cup when our history is so rich on the continent. We’re the revered Chipolopolo, the 2012 Africa Cup champions who should not be reduced to envious spectators!
I hereby decree that come 2019, we should not only be back in the fold but should be podium finishers!
I have moaned so much about COSAFA and Zambia’s absence, allow me to commend some teams that are doing quite well.
Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia have played some decent football and deserve a pat on their collective backs.
These are countries whose football associations know how to plan and majority of their players are in Europe.
Why has Zambia, which is awash with so much talent, been failing to take players even to third-tier leagues in Europe?
For now, let’s enjoy the Africa Cup of Nations and pray that someone above hears our plea and bails us out of this quagmire.
Let’s interact on sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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