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Zambia craving for more success

SOCCER REVIEW with STEPHEN PHIRI
THE performance of Zambian football in the last 50 years can be described as fair.
Zambia started competing in international football way before independence in 1964.
Qualification for the World Cup has eluded Zambia and as the country turns 50 we need to strategise and ensure we qualify for the Russia 2018 finals.
With due respect to Angola, the southern African country cannot match Zambia’s prowess in football but they have tasted the World Cup.
We need to up our game and ensure that come 2018, Zambia will represent Africa in Russia.
The Zambia national soccer team has won the Africa Cup of Nations once despite making 16 appearances.
The 2012 triumph in Gabon should motivate the country to aim for more success on the continent.
The under-23, under-20 and under-17 national teams are still struggling to stamp authority in the respective age group competitions in Africa.
Women football is still in its infancy although there is a slight improvement.
The under-17 national team qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Costa Rica and the senior team was among the eight finalists at the Africa Women Championship in Namibia.
At club level, no Zambian club has won the Africa Champions League title and the closest was in 1990 when the then Nkana Red Devils [now Nkana] reached the final but lost 4-5 on penalties to Algerian side JS Kabylie. The teams tied 1-1 on aggregate.
Power Dynamos made history by winning the Nelson Mandela Cup in 1991 after beating Nigerian outfit BBC Lions 5-4 on aggregate.
As the country celebrates its 50 years of independence on Friday there is need to reflect on the positives and negatives.
The Government, Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), corporate organisations and stakeholders should work together in ensuring the success of the game.
Zambia is blessed with so much talent and we should not allow failure.
We need to go back to the days of the national schools league when talent was spotted at a tender age.
A number of players who donned national colours in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s were a product of the schools league.
We cannot fold our hands when we know where the problem is.
Nowadays it is difficult to trace the route of players because they have not gone through the mill.
The ministries of Education and Sport should partner FAZ in coming up with a schools league.
Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu, Godfrey Chitalu, Jani Simulambo, Alex Chola, Efford Chabala, Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, Johnson Bwalya and Christopher Katongo, among others, did their part and the onus is on the young stars to go a step further and do the country proud.
As we forge forward, we need more success so that we take our rightful place in African football.
Enjoy the Golden jubilee celebrations.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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