GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
THIS is undoubtedly going to be one of the busiest calendars for the Chipolopolo. Any other sports grouping would hate to follow it, but the team has no choice given the importance of the activities ahead.
Apart from the upcoming 2019 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations fixtures and the on-going 2018 World Cup race, the Chipolopolo also has the 2018 Kenya African Nations Championship (CHAN) and the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Castle Cup competitions.
There are also international friendlies in between.
This spells out an extremely very busy year for coach Wedson Nyirenda, who too deserves a rest.
Of course, Nyirenda may not say it because he does not want to be seen to have failed.
In view of this year, it is only wise that the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) sits down with Nyirenda to plan the way forward.
Granted, Nyirenda is in charge of the national teams and would want his footprint felt across the local football spectrum.
There is need for the local soccer governing body to spread the benefits of the upcoming competitions so that as many coaches and players benefit.
For instance, nothing stops FAZ from appointing another coach, say Dan Kabwe, to guide the national team in the CHAN qualifiers and another, maybe Beston Chambeshi, to steer the Chipolopolo to the COSAFA Senior Challenge in June.
There are many benefits in spreading the assignments because the coach for the CHAN will choose the ones Nyirenda may either reject or overlook based on his personal or professional biases.
The same may apply to the trainer to oversee the COSAFA Senior Challenge because he, too, has already seen some exciting prospects in the league.
Besides choosing the mentors to head these developmental squads, there will be other coaches chosen to work with them, just like team managers, kit/equipment managers and team medics.
So, a lot of cadres in the soccer fraternity will benefit from the exposure of coaching and managing national teams at various levels.
More players will be rejuvenated by giving them the opportunity to play for the Chipolopolo, their national team, their pride.
Even Nyirenda will also benefit, not just resting or relaxing, but seeing other coaches helping him unearth talent and giving some of the players who have very little game time at the Chipolopolo a run.
Apart from watching local games, Nyirenda’s responsibility includes monitoring Zambian players based outside the country.
In fact, for the COSAFA Castle Cup, neither Nyirenda nor FAZ should have sleepless nights because the Under-20 travelling to South Korea should be the ones to be the country’s flag-bearers.
The team has been together for a long time and should be kept together as it graduates to the Olympic squad.
After all, Zambia will host the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in 2019.
Chambeshi has already exceeded expectations being in charge of the Under-20 squad and common sense, which should prevail at Football House, demands that he should graduate with the Under-20 to the next level.
That is the kind of progression the country wishes to see if Zambia is to uphold its soccer credentials.
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga has a mammoth task to reconcile Zambian football and it starts with spreading the benefits of giving as many coaches as possible a chance to have turns at coaching developmental teams.
For instance, Kabwe, the Power Dynamos coach, is massively experienced to handle the CHAN squad.
But it will not in any way take away the fact that Nyirenda is in charge and his input may be sought.
By the way, why has FAZ delayed in recruiting a technical director following the departure of Honour Janza?
The technical directorate is a very critical department in directing soccer development in the country.
In the absence of a full-time person, FAZ should at least make an attempt to have somebody warming up the seat, unlike the current scenario in which the position is seen to be irrelevant.
FAZ cannot wait for FIFA to make such decisions on its behalf, including having an interim staff.
After all, the country is not short of staff to handle the void – either in an interim of full-time capacity.
There are competent and highly qualified cadres such as Chris ‘Tata Tata’ Chibuye who can hold fort or indeed be appointed permanently in that position.
It may be time for restoration for ‘Tata Tata’, who was sidelined for long periods during the last FAZ administration.
CONGRATS KAMANGA, KALU
I wish to congratulate FAZ president Andrew Kamanga, who has been selected to the seven-member FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee for a four-year team after passing FIFA integrity tests.
Kamanga, who was nominated during the 67th FIFA Congress in Manama, Bahrain, becomes the third Zambian to be nominated to a higher ranking body.
Kamanga’s predecessor, Kalusha Bwalya, was appointed chairperson of the Confederation of African Football technical and development committee during an executive committee meeting in Manama.
Kalusha is also vice-chairperson of CAF organising committee for futsal and beach soccer.
Former national team doctor Joseph Kabungo also serves on the FIFA medical committee.
Kabungo was appointed to the FIFA medical committee on January 20 this year.
These two influential positions call for bigger responsibilities by the two administrators.
Kamanga, who campaigned for the FAZ presidency with a promise for accountability and transparency, has a bigger responsibility to walk his talk going by the confidence reposed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino in him.
Infantino has warned that those who want to get rich through corrupt activities wants them to leave football immediately.
Kamanga must cascade Infantino’s message right down to the COSAFA region and the local soccer governing body.