Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
COACH Sven Vandenbroeck is still in charge of the Chipolopolo, 45 days after Zambia’s ambitions of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations were halted by Mozambique.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) executive committee agreed last Saturday to extend the 38-year-old Belgian’s stay, subject to the financier’s approval.
Initially, Sven’s contract was to oversee five matches in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race with the ultimate aim of qualifying the team to the continental showpiece, a task he failed rather meekly.
That, to me, was ridiculous. No coach anywhere in the world is given a five-month contract no matter the circumstances.
The Belgian’s record is one win, two losses and one draw and will be on the bench when Zambia face Namibia in a dead rubber match on March 22.
FAZ were wise by proposing extension of the contract because a broader legal requirement is that a contracted employee should be informed of their fate or otherwise three months before the expiry of a contract.
The general feeling among most football fans after Zambia lost 1-0 to Mozambique in Maputo on November 18 to effectively end the Chipolopolo’s ambitions of qualifying for the 2019 edition was that Vandenbroeck is not the right coach to take the Chipolopolo forward.
But it seems the FAZ executive committee members have a different view, which they are entitled to. They have decided that Vandenbroeck should remain in charge of the 2012 African champions.
FAZ is running the beautiful game on behalf of the 16 million-plus Zambians, who have no authority to appoint a coach directly.
To put things as I think, I may not have faith in Sven but his five-game contract was not thought through properly and I agree with the association’s new position.
Former FAZ vice-president Emmanuel Munaile was spot-on to say Sven’s contract should have been extended to 2021 in a bid to give him time to mould a formidable team, or perhaps destroy whatever is left in the bag.
The coach, whether Sven or whoever may impress FAZ, needs a lot of time to rebuild a team definitely on a fast-tracked free-fall.
Proposing a one-year contract is not the best because the Chipolopolo will not be active this year as they have not qualified for the continental showpiece slated for June 15 to July 13 in a country yet to be announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
FAZ could have offered Sven or his successor a two or three-year contract, tying it to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will get under-way towards the end of this year.
For this year, Sven will be attached to the under-23 national team that is preparing for the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations billed for Egypt.
The tournament in Egypt slated for November 8 to 22 is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The top three teams will qualify for the Olympics, where Zambia’s last appearance in a football tournament was in 1988.
Sven will be a technical advisor to under-23 coach Beston Chambeshi, who was part of the squad that reached the Olympics quarter-finals 30 years ago in Seoul, South Korea.
I am wishing Zambian football and everyone associated with it a prosperous 2019.
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI