Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
WITH Zambia not at the Africa Cup of Nations currently under way in Egypt, the conversation that has occupied local soccer fans is the proposed amount to be paid to the prospective national team coach.
Initially, Government had pegged it at US$10,000 but the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has increased the amount to US$25,000 with the promise that it will make up the remaining US$15,000.
The FAZ offer has attracted debate among stakeholders with many doubting whether the soccer governing body will manage to raise US$15,000 every month.
Those doubting the capacity of FAZ to raise US$15,000 have a point, a valid point. It is no secret that FAZ owes a lot of money to former national team coaches. Some coaches spent their own money to buy some training equipment.
But that has not stopped FAZ general secretary Adrian Kashala from assuring the nation that the association is equal to the task of raising US$15,000 every month.
I am of the view that FAZ should have negotiated for a better package with Government or corporates.
Not too long ago, a mining company was paying the coaches’ salary and meeting other obligations.
Government is stressed financially and should not be seen to be pumping money into an association facing financial constraints.
Perhaps the need not to bother Government forced the association to think about raising the counterpart funding.
Reality, though, and going by experience, FAZ has no capacity at the moment.
Over the years, we had so many coaches taking FAZ to FIFA for non-payment of salaries.
The latest is Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck, who claims to be owed five months salary arrears.
Former Zambia boss Wedson Nyirenda is on the queue waiting to be paid his dues.
People who are questioning FAZ’s ability to manage US$15,000 every month are not doing so out of malice but because of past events.
How is FAZ going to raise the money? Which corporate organisations is FAZ targeting to assist in raising US$15,000 every month?
These are the questions that the football fraternity want answers for.
If the FAZ hierarchy is able to raise US$15,000 every month, then I salute them.
I want a scenario where the salary of the coach is paid on time and without hustle so that he concentrates on doing the job for which he is employed, and that is to mould a strong Chipolopolo squad that will qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Zambians are desperate to watch their revered Chipolopolo at the 2021 continental showpiece after failing to qualify for the 2017 and 2019 editions.
We have had enough of watching Madagascar reaching the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup while we are reduced to watching referee Janny Sikazwe.
I sometimes wonder what wrong we have done to the gods to deserve being reduced to Africa Cup spectators instead of participants.
Perhaps, that’s a discussion for another day.
And when we talk about recruiting a coach, I hope we will not get another amateur simply because he comes from Europe. If you were to ask me about where our football failings are, I would shock you by saying they have nothing to do with coaching.
I hope Aggrey Chiyangi will seriously be considered for the job. Our coaches should not only be brought in when FAZ does not have money and discarded when the offer is US$25,000.
Who says Aggrey does not deserve such a salary? He should not be disadvantaged simply because he is Zambian.
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI