Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
FIFTY-FIVE years after independence, Zambia is still struggling to mould coaches that can call shots at the national team.
This is sad.
Not long ago, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) informed the nation that there is no Zambian qualified enough to take charge of the Chipolopolo.
From 1971 to date, 15 foreign coaches have taken charge of the national team.
These include Ante Buselic, Ted Virba, Brian Tiler, Ted Dumitru, Bill McGarry, Wieslaw Grabowski, Ian Porterfield, Roald Poulsen, Jan Brouwer, Burkhard Ziese and Herve Renard.
The performances under the foreign coaches have varied but the most successful has been Frenchman Renard, who led the Chipolopolo to their sole Africa Cup of Nations title in 2012 in his second stint as coach having earlier taken them to the quarter-finals four years earlier.
After Renard, the second most successful are Yugoslav Buselic and Briton Porterfield, who led Zambia to second-place finishes at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1974 and 1994, respectively.
Danish Poulsen and Romanian Dumitru also had fairly good stints in charge of the national team.
Poulsen, who was initially involved in the rebuilding of the national team following the 1993 Gabon air disaster, which claimed 18 players and 12 officials, managed a third-place finish in South Africa, two years after the reconstituted national team came out second at Africa’s biggest football showpiece in Tunisia.
For his accomplishment, Renard will remain revered in Zambia for a long time.
On Monday, national team interim coach Aggrey Chiyangi, who has done wonders with his Green Eagles side in the MTN Super Division in the past two seasons and was part of the national team which came second at the 1994 Africa Cup, said local trainers have not been prepared to take responsibility of the Chipolopolo.
Coaching is among the four pillars of football with the other three being refereeing, sports medicine and administration.
Obviously, the success of the Chipolopolo depends on a cocktail of issues and coaching is one of the critical ones.
The need for the country to build capacity in local coaches so that they could take charge of the national team cannot be over-emphasised.
We have had local coaches doing well before, like Colonel Brightwell Banda and Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu.
Zoom managed to take the team to the quarter-finals of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games after overcoming the likes of Italy 4 – 0 in what remains one of the most memorable matches in Zambia’s history.
It is that tournament that announced Kalusha Bwalya, who won the 1988 African-footballer-of-the-year, on the world stage proper.
And barring the Gabon air disaster, only God knows how far Godfrey ‘Ucar’ Chitalu and Alex Chola would have taken the national team.
But we have had also local coaches who have done well by coaching teams in the southern African region.
But what is worth noting is that at the time Zoom was making waves as a coach, the use of technology in football had not developed well enough and he had to largely depend on his footballing brain.
But with technology all over and the huge exposure that is there, surely the likes of Honour Janza, Wedson Nyirenda, George Lwandamina, Patrick Phiri, Dan Kabwe, Chiyangi and Beston Chambeshi among others should be comfortable coaching at the highest level.
However, it seems Zambia’s best enemy is a complex (an inferiority one for that matter) where we think only expatriates can deliver.
Yet only months ago, FAZ unceremoniously parted ways with Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck after he failed to lead the Chipolopolo to the 2019 Egypt Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI