Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
ZAMBIANS expressed their emotions in a comical manner when the Chipolopolo were taught a football lesson by Mozambique, a
country we should not be sharing a platform with.
After going down 0-1 for that unwanted record, Zambians turned to social media describing the team in all sorts of manner, but perhaps the most striking is something like this: “Northern Rhodesia 0 Mozambique 1.”
According to that post, an alert Zambian went to police to report and seek the arrest of the team that was masquerading as Zambia when they are actually foreigners of the colonial era.
“Bwana, we have come to report those people who were playing football yesterday (Saturday) at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium for masquerading as Zambia.”
Much as such comments that went viral may be hilarious, they point to something very serious; that Zambia can/should never lose to Mozambique.
That becomes even more real when one considers how Zambia played at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea where they reached the quarter-finals recently. It was, therefore, inconceivable for the senior team to lose – for the first time – to the underweights.
Quite clearly, coach Wedson Nyirenda has a lot of questions to answer. First, why did he feature some players who do not play at their clubs and make our revered Chipolopolo look like madalas?
The senior Chipolopolo had mixed grill, both old and fresh legs, old ones notably Collins Mbesuma, Given Singuluma, Kennedy Mweene, Rainford Kalaba, Chisamba Lungu and Stopilla Sunzu, and the fresh legs (though I can’t remember any fresh leg).
However, fitness from some old folks left much to be desired, especially Mbesuma, Singuluma and Kalaba.
The defence was so pathetic, especially on the left flank where Fackson Kapumbu was always skinned and letting uncountable ‘centres’ – crosses for which one paid the visitors dividend.
The central defence, too, was so shaky that Sunzu and Ziyo Tembo could not hold water tightly, mainly because they had to leave their positions to help wingbacks.
Apart from Kondwani Mtonga and some flashes by Fwayo Tembo, it is difficult to pick who else should have been in the starting line-up. Wedson told us that he has an eagle’s eye, but I am sorry that did not reflect and I don’t want to suggest which bird’s eye he seemed to have.
Striking instinct upfront was zero, we seemed not to play to win. The coach needs a lot of help for him to constitute a strong and winning team for Zambia.
Many are advocating for inclusion of at least one or two, even three, from the under-20, especially upfront. I do not disagree.
Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Emmanuel Banda and Patson Daka would have added value to the team.
Secondly, does the Football Association of Zambia have a technical committee to help in picking the national team?
If the team’s performance does not improve, there are two real threats: they will be playing in empty stadiums since fans will lose the little confidence, and secondly, they will not qualify for any competition unless through invitation.