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What message did fans convey by booing?

THAT the Chipolopolo were booed by home fans during the international friendly against Ethiopia at Lusaka’s Woodlands Stadium

last Saturday is sad.
Whatever motivated the fans to boo their own team is difficult to understand.
This year has been one of our best on the soccer calendar.
Memories of the Under-20 national team doing this great country proud are very fresh.
The Under-20 won us the Total African Nations Cup trophy on home soil.
They also reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Korea for the first time in our history.
And only a fortnight ago, the Under-17 won the regional COSAFA Cup title in Mauritius.
Prior to the teenagers’ triumph in Mauritius, the home-based Chipolopolo reached the final of the Castle Lager COSAFA Cup in South Africa, losing to neighbours Zimbabwe in the battle of the Zambezi.
Given our national teams’ outing recently, they have brought pride to Zambia.
The triumphs give us hope that it is a matter of time that we may rekindle the 2012 African Nations Cup victory in Gabon.
It is the desire of every soccer fan in the country to see our national teams progressing all the time.
After all, second President Frederick Chiluba said soccer is a tonic that helps citizens forget their social problems because they will smile and cheer away the hunger and anger.
Despite the greed to win always, soccer fans should accept occasional losses too as long as the selected players on the day accounted for themselves fully to justify being in the line-up.
Saturday’s booing therefore points to fans not totally agreeing with coach Wedson Nyirenda’s selection.
If the booing is anything to go by, Nyirenda may be falling out of the fans’ favour.
Why has Nyirenda suddenly become a black sheep to the fans?
There is a gut feeling that his high-handedness in dealing with some players maybe one of the reasons.
Some fans simply can’t understand why in-form players like Fwayo Tembo are not part of the African Nations Cup (CHAN) team, just like Cletus Chama was left out of the COSAFA squad and the friendly against Ethiopia.
There are also questions on the Chipolopolo future for Captain Rainford Kalaba and his TP Mazembe counterpart, Nathan Sinkala.
Despite the Under-20 players having put up a splendid display in Korea, Nyirenda seems to have ignored them.
In CHAN games, he could have been using the likes of Kenneth Kalunga, Ngosa Sunzu and Solomon Sakala to understudy late bloomer, Ziyo Tembo.
Sometimes, Nyirenda’s selection leaves many wondering.
Roger Kola can play 90 minutes against Nigeria and then be out of the squad completely, just like Lubambo Musonda.
These unanswered questions are agitating the fans who have now resorted to booing the team.
Fans do not seem to be proud of this Chipolopolo they have come to call Northern Rhodesia.
This Rhodesia term was birthed after losing to Mozambique at the start of the 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
The loss to Mozambique followed back-to-back Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier losses to Nigeria and Cameroon.
After losing 1-2 to Nigeria at home, Nyirenda said he was proud of the second half.
However, some stakeholders could not imagine our coach being proud by losing 1-2 to Nigeria at home.
His pride was probably going to be justified if it was Brazil but Nigeria? Did he forget Zambia were 2012 African champions?
Losing the 2019 AfCON opening qualifier to Mozambique at home has seemingly diminished our chances.
What is worse is that we are now mere braid maids in our World Cup which also has Algeria besides Cameroon and Nigeria.
As things stand now, fans are low in morale.
They will continue showing their displeasure by either booing our team or staying away from home games.
FAZ has to start thinking about ways of restoring the confidence of the fans whose gate receipts it needs to keep the national team’s programmes and the secretariat running.
Nyirenda was a compromise coach following Government’s refusal to fund the salary of an expatriate coach.
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga must consider going back to see the patron at State House for the reconsideration of the stance regarding an expatriate coach.
Since President Lungu’s stance that FAZ should go local, a lot has happened.
President Lungu was at Levy Mwanawasa when Nigeria beat us.
With the Zambia Revenue Authority exceeding tax collections, the head of State may authorise the engagement of a foreign coach to work with Nyirenda.
Kamanga may wish to speak to some Chinese companies who are constructing our roads to practice corporate social responsibility by paying for an expatriate coach.
Apart from not doing well in the World Cup qualifiers and a poor start to the 2019 AfCON series, it is like Nyirenda may be losing it in the dressing room.
Why would Kalaba and Chama react the way they did after being substituted?
Given soccer fans reaction last Saturday, FAZ must act in the best interest of our national teams.
It is clear fans need an overseas coach.
Zambia needs fresh blood not only in terms of playing personnel players but in coaching.
In the event that FAZ fail to convince Government or Chinese contractors in funding of an expatriate coach, they could plead with clubs who have foreign gaffers for help.
There is an overflow of foreign coaches in the league who may wish to lend a hand to the Chipolopolo to re-align our aspirations for the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 AfCON either for free or at a far reduced fee.
It may be the remedy for booing.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.