Game ON! with BENEDICT TEMBO
WHEN the going gets tough, only the tough get going, so says an age-old adage.
With results seemingly not going in his favour, Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda has found a way of responding to the pressure: media gag.
Local journalists have said Nyirenda has stopped granting them interviews.
I had initially brushed Nyirenda’s gag as a mere allegation because I have known the Chipolopolo mentor to be a gentleman.
“It is true,” Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation staffer Katwishi Bwalya responded to my question on the WhatsApp FAZ Press blog.
“He is on self-imposed media ban, he does not want to be criticised,” said Times of Zambia sports editor Elias Chipepo.
But Football Association of Zambia communications manager Desmond Katongo said he is yet to get Nyirenda’s official position regarding the reported gag of the media, including the FAZ communication office.
I have known Nyirenda for a long time and if there are people who are frank in the game, he is one of those.
And in any case you cross his path, he would not mince his words.
Therefore, it is surprising that Nyirenda has taken the path of going mute instead of dialogue.
Of course, Nyirenda is human and if he feels offended by the media, individually or collectively, there are dignified avenues of resolving such conflicts.
Gagging the media is not the best of routes to take even if pressure is mounting from fans who expect much from him, especially that when Nyirenda assumed the position of Chipolopolo coach last year, he came on the scene with that aura that he was the local messiah that the country had overlooked for far too long.
Since the others had been given the chance and opportunity, why not him this time around.
For all his success with Zanaco and Zesco United at club level, managing a national team is a different proposition altogether.
Sadly, Wada’s baptism at the highest level has generally been rocky. The 2-1 home loss to Nigeria in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier is a classic example.
What Nyirenda needs is an enhanced, well-schooled technical bench to share ideas with. Indeed, two heads are better than one.
At the rate things are going, much may not go further for the Chipolopolo in their quest to capture dual tickets for the global as well as the continental slots in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
All is not well with Zambia’s quest for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as well as 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers.
All hope though is not lost, but as long as Nyirenda keeps all closely to his chest, things are bound to go against him.
That is why he should have probably been patient in re-organising the technical bench, especially removing experienced coaches such as Power Dynamos’ coach Dan Kabwe and South Africa-based goalkeeper trainer Davies Phiri.
Apart from Aggrey Chiyangi and Dabid Chilufya, he needed some thorough-bred coaches to serve as backroom staff.
However, Nyirenda may not be solely to blame but his employers, FAZ, who have deliberately not employed a technical director following the exit of Honour Janza, who has joined Red Arrows.
It is not clear why FAZ has decided to keep that critical position vacant when the country is in need of direction at that strategic level.
Barclays Cup should be password for Confed Cup
The Barclays Cup is the only silverware at stake in Zambian football and common sense tells me that winners of this prestigious trophy should be representing the country in the Confederation Cup.
As talks begin between FAZ and Barclays for the 2017 edition, the financial institution should table that.
When Barclays Cup becomes the entry for the Confederation Cup, it will raise the profile of the competition.
I am sure even Barclays headquarters in the United Kingdom will be glad to learn that a competition run by its subsidiaries is the gateway for Zambian clubs to play in Africa.
This, however, means that Barclays Bank has to put in more money in the competition to make it more attractive and competitive.
The economy may not allow the bank to offer the kind of prize money clubs desire.
The secret, however, is Barclays bringing more corporates on board to co-sponsor the tournament.
For instance, individual awards should be expanded to allow other non-competitors to pick them up.
Allowing other corporates to come on board will not change the name of the competition but will make it more prestigious with players, coaches and referees to win something for themselves.
Apart from rewarding the coach of the tournament, top scorer, man-of-the-match, player-of-the-tournament and referee of the tournament, more awards such as best goalkeeper, goal of the tournament, best defender, best midfielder and fair play team could be introduced to stimulate more interest in the event.
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