Sport

Forget back door, build team first

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
SO, THE Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) is interested in hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following the decision last Friday by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to strip Cameroon of the right to host the continental showpiece.
This would have been laughable if it was not serious.
But it is a serious matter as it is FAZ general secretary Adrian Kashala who told the Sports Mail that Football House is interested in bidding to host the tournament although they had to first consult relevant authorities before putting pen to paper.
“We are interested in hosting but we have to co-host with another country. We also have to consult relevant authorities first before we push in the bid,” Kashala said.
The motivation for wanting to host the tournament is obviously to qualify for the continental competition following that dismal qualification campaign by the Chipolopolo.
But truth be told, it is a wrong motivation. And the reasons are many.
For a start, we all know that hosting the Africa Cup of Nations could cost Zambians millions of dollars.
It is clearly money we do not have, even if we were to co-host with another country.
In any case, we are supposed to be implementing austerity measures, and hosting the Africa Cup of Nations is a luxury we cannot afford, even if football was to be our second religion.
Yes, we know that we staged the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations last year and CAF, together with the Government, had to put in some money.
But the under-20 tournament, which Zambia won, is a much smaller competition, and the commitment to host it was made at the time the country’s finances were a little healthy.
And don’t forget that Zambia was supposed to stage the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations, but withdrew.
Perhaps at this stage, the likes of South Africa and Morocco, who have also shown interest to replace Cameroon as hosts, should be given the nod.
They have almost everything in place.
On its part, Zambia should forget about using the back door in order to be among the 24 teams that will be doing battle at the continent’s most coveted competition.
During the qualification campaign, we showed more than enough evidence that we are currently not good enough to compete at a higher level.
The best is to go back to the proverbial drawing board and address the challenges Zambian football is facing.
Clearly, we need the under-15, under-17, under-20 and under-23 to be solid for us to have a formidable national team.
For a long time, youth football has been neglected and only becomes active when there is a tournament.
And we show our desperation to get quick results at these tournaments by calling back players who should have ideally graduated to the next level.
As the qualification campaign to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations demonstrated, there are no quick-fix solutions to achieving success. We just have to go back to planning.
Let all those football minds brainstorm on the way forward and find me on phiristeve4@gmail.com or sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm.


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