Sport

Chiyangi should be in equation

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
AGGREY Chiyangi has certainly won the hearts of several soccer fans following Zambia’s impressive 4-1 victory over Namibia in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match, albeit one which had little meaning with the team already out of contention.
While it is understandably not possible to measure the performance of a coach in one game, you can still say Chiyangi got a lot of things right.
At the end of the match, one had to ask why Zambia could not do this earlier in the campaign.
Of all the 2019 Africa Cup qualifying matches that Zambia played, you could say Saturday’s match was the most impressive yet.
Two other coaches were involved during the qualifiers – Wedson Nyirenda and the Belgian Sven Vandenbroeck.
None registered such a convincing victory. And that was during the time Zambia had still chances of qualifying.
On the evidence of that victory, yes, that one game, Chiyangi earned the right to be considered for the long haul.
Chiyangi was first roped in as Vandenbroeck’s assistant, but following the suspension of the Belgian, whose contract expires on Sunday, he took over the reins.
Despite the short time he spent with the team, Chiyangi got the tactics against Namibia right.
Or put differently, he succeeded where the expatriate coach Vandenbroeck failed.
Not for the first time, the evidence is there that local coaches can equally succeed given the right environment and tools.
Remember Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu, arguably the best local coach to drill the national team!
He led Zambia to the quarter-finals of the 1988 Seoul Olympics before taking the team to a third-place finish two years later at the Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria.
Yes, some people will argue that those are isolated cases. But I vouch for them here. Just give them the right conditions.
If an expatriate is getting US$10,000 as a salary, let a Zambian get the same amount, if not more. Only when we start respecting the local coaches and treating them with respect will our local trainers get inspired to work hard and prove that they are equal to the task.
As things stand now, they are a demotivated lot; they know that no matter how much they put in, they will not get the same appreciation as is the case with expatriates.
Elsewhere on the continent, the scenario is different and the countries are reaping the benefits.
Egypt have been winning the Africa Cup with local coaches. You must know a certain Hassan Shehata.
And now, Zimbabwe have Sunday Chidzambwa in charge, Democratic Republic of Congo have stuck with Florent Ibenge, Senegal have Aliou Cisse while Ghana are under the tutelage of Kwesi Appiah.
They have all qualified for the Africa Cup. Namibia, too. They have put their trust in Riccardo Mannetti.
I also agree with Mannetti, who urged FAZ to give coaches projects and not targets.
He is spot-on because patience is a virtue.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com






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