GAME ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
I HAVE failed to come to terms with the dismissal of coach Zeddy Saileti and his deputy Gift Kampamba by Nkana Football Club.
Nkana have ambitions which they wanted Saileti to fulfil but he was head coach for the first time despite having been a caretaker before.
The elevation of Saileti was well received given his pedigree having played at the highest level in Zambia and abroad.
It came at a time when the league is being refreshed with young turks being handed the responsibility of rebuilding teams.
Saileti left Nkana with four wins, four draws and three losses with 16 points and within touching range of the top teams.
The Super Division has young, ambitious and competent coaches such as Mumamba Numba (Zanaco), Bilton Musonda (Green Buffaloes), John Munkonje (Lumwana Radiants), Kampamba Chintu (Kabwe Warriors), Perry Mutapa (Forest Rangers), Tenant Chilumba (Napsa Stars) and George Chilufya (Green Eagles), among others.
Therefore, the arrival of Saileti on the horizon was sweet news to the soccer fraternity and Nkana.
The record 12-time league champions should have been patient with Saileti and allowed him to implement his philosophy.
Transformation of teams does not occur overnight but is a process and Nkana should have given Saileti at least two seasons for his philosophy to fully blossom.
For instance, Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford did not guarantee Manchester United success who finished sixth while their townmates Manchester City who finished third.
Liverpool’s German football manager Jürgen Klopp, who took over from Brendan Rogers in October 2015, is yet to deliver the Premiership title.
The problem at Nkana is that the executive seems to be afraid of the supporters and hence end up making decisions such as sending Saileti to the streets on impulse.
Nkana is a club of double-faced supporters; whenever they won, they said he was coming up well, but in moments like what transpired after drawing 2-all with Kabwe Warriors at Godfrey Chitalu Stadium, Saileti was showered with all manner of insults.
It was therefore not surprising when the executive announced his exit and the re-engagement of Beston Chambeshi.
The act of desperation to bring back Chambeshi for a third stint has been received with mixed feelings.
It also points to lack of principles by Chambeshi, currently basking in the glory of guiding the under-20 national team to the Total Africa Cup of Nations triumph and the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup in South Korea.
Chambeshi should have been the last person to accept to return to a club that is so ungrateful to its own former stars.
In case Chambeshi was desperate to return to Kitwe from Lumwana Radiants, he should have asked Nkana to keep Saileti and Kampamba in whatever capacity in solidarity.
Chambeshi should know that those very supporters who poured opaque beer on him the last time he was there are still very much around to repeat the same ritual in case results will not come his way.
I am not privy to what Nkana have offered him, but for all Lumwana did for him, Chambeshi should have stuck there to see them out of the 2017 season as a way of paying back for their loyalty.
He may be the man-of-the-moment, but I do not see Chambeshi bringing any tangible change to Chilata because Nkana do not have quality players to dominate the league.
Apart from Walter Bwalya, the rest are still raw.
Nkana are still in the rebuilding phase and it may take a while for any coach to replicate the feat by late Masauso Mwale.
Saileti is a good coach and given the necessary support, he was going to take Nkana where all the stakeholders want the once glamorous club to be.
Zanaco’s performance under Numba is evidence that when a young coach is given the support and operates in the right environment, he can do it.
Nkana’s 12 league titles won in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2001 and 2013 took a lot of patience and planning.
The first-ever win of 1982 was achieved in an unbeaten fashion in 22 matches (10 wins and 12 draws) under Briton Jeff Butler, who also guided the Reds to their three years on the bounce league captures of 1983, 1985 and 1986 crowns.
Other than Butler, Moses Simwala, Ben Bamfuchile and Patrick Phiri have been the other title-winning coaches of Zambia’s most successful team in the top-flight.
While club administrators have ambitions to sustain, they should also take into account the damage they inflict to young people.
Zambian clubs should also emulate clubs like Kaiser Chiefs who have maintained their former star players in the back-room.
Kampamba and Saileti are Nkana trophies and should be preserved for posterity.
They are the club’s brand.
Good luck Saileti and Kampamba in your careers. Continue to be God’s vessels and He will reward you handsomely.
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