Football

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it

Bola Biz
THIS is a common cliché. But it is very relevant regarding the squad Wedson Nyirenda has summoned for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Nigeria this Saturday in Uyo.

The squad has raised dust in some circles due to the high profile exclusions. There is no place for former skipper Rainford Kalaba and anchorman Nathan Sakala.
Nyirenda achieved the incredible by doing a double over Algeria last month. In fact, it was the first time ever that Zambia had defeated Algeria away.
The Desert Foxes are a formidable force on the continent and have always been a thorn in the flesh of Zambia.
Prior to the Constantine game, 1982 was the last time Zambia tasted victory against the dreaded North Africans.
A 2-0 win in Libya secured via Peter Kaumba and Godfrey Munshya in the third place playoff at the Africa Cup of Nations.
So Nyirenda should be allowed to cherry pick his squad without unnecessary distractions. The former Mozambique based mentor has a philosophy.
It is only the players who fit his philosophy that he picked. The philosophy of Nyirenda is called SSD – speed, skill and discipline.
The squad that he has picked ticks all the boxes in those key thematic areas of his philosophy.
Could the players who have been left out added value to the squad? I think so. Kalaba and Sinkala and some extent Kabaso Chongo are playing for Tout Puissant Mazembe.
However, each coach has players he feels can do the job depending on tactics that come with his philosophy.
Nyirenda has not closed the door on any of the players who are not part of the squad for Nigeria.
The left out players do not need to despair. The national team positions are not personal to holder.
Today the players facing Nigeria may not be those facing Cameroon tomorrow. The nation must get behind the team now.
I have been impressed by the progress made by the Bola Na Lesa boys campaigning in Europe.
Eighteen-year-old Edward Chilufya is involved with the national team set up for the first time after settling in Sweden at Djurgardens IF.
The Kasama product has already paraded his trademark somersault celebration after netting a goal for the Swedish club’s junior team.
Speedy striker Patson Daka and workaholic midfielder Enock ‘Computer’ Mwepu have made strides by becoming part of the Red Bull Salzburg side despite arriving at the Austrian Bundesliga just this year.
Fashion Sakala is also making the bench now for Spartak Moscow main team. These lads are young, hungry and with a point to prove.
If the impetuosity of youth overtakes the foursome, the familiarised faces of Zambian football in captain Kennedy Mweene, Chisamba Lungu, Stopilla Sunzu and Kondwani Mtonga shall bring them back to mother earth.
The first three are 2012 Africa Cup winners and cannot be fazed by the atmosphere in Uyo.
They are expected to provide the required leadership.
But to be fair, only Sakala let the rush of blood get the better of him against Algeria in Lusaka. But Mwepu and Daka played with maturity beyond their ages.
For Chilufya, it is probably a game come too soon. But the Super Eagles may underrate the value of this Copper Bullet at their own peril.
Then the hard runners in Augustine Mulenga and Ernest ‘Altezza’ Mbewe, archetypal Nyirenda philosophy choices, add that much needed unpredictability and pace.
These charges are not like well-known best-selling African novels.
That unknown quantity of gun powder in them can completely confuse the Eagles and clip their wings in their own Uyo backward.
The defence did well against Algeria. But the likes of Fackson Kapumbu and Simon Silwimba need to be as tight and hard as an overalls buttons.
Vice-captain Ziyo Tembo, a late bloomer, must communicate effectively with the two, Sunzu and Mweene.
Cage China-based Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel and track Victor Moses. The Nigerians are finished.
It is a pity that poacher Brian Mwila misses out due to injury. But Brian Mwila’s absence looks like new Orlando Pirates signing Justin Shonga’s gain.
The machine that beat Algeria is not broken. And Nyirenda did not see the need to fix it.

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