Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
BELGIAN Sven Vandenbroeck was yesterday unveiled as national team coach and handed the task of qualifying the Chipolopolo to the 2019 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations.The task is huge considering that the Chipolopolo lost 1-0 to Mozambique in a Group K opening match on June 10, 2017 in Ndola while the next match is against Namibia in Windhoek in September.
Should Vandenbroeck play his cards right, he will easily win the confidence of Zambians particularly if he qualifies the nation to its 18th appearance at the continental showpiece.
It is not a secret that a number of Zambians have lost confidence in the Chipolopolo because of poor results.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) should be commended for giving the 38-year-old a short contract so that his performance can be reviewed at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race.
Vandenbroeck yesterday met coaches drilling Super Division teams with the view of exchanging ideas; it is the way to go as the Belgian seeks to hit the ground running immediately.
Indeed Vandenbroeck should be free to consult coaches at various Super Division teams. But again, he should be on the look-out for some coaches who might ‘sweet-talk him’ into making wrong decisions.
Every society has people that want to mislead others for their gain, and Vandenbroeck should guard against such individuals. There are plenty of such individuals in football.
Should results not be in favour of the Chipolopolo, then the blame will fall squarely on him and the appointing authority.
Vandenbroeck should be his own man and not allow anyone, including FAZ executive committee members, to interfere in his work.
He should emulate Frenchman Herve Renard, who called a spade a spade and not a big hoe. It is largely as a result of Renard’s approach that the Chipolopolo won their maiden Africa Cup title in 2012. Renard was in total control.
It is also encouraging that Vandenbroeck has promised to keep the doors to the national team open. That way, he can assemble a formidable side to include experienced and young players such as Patson Daka, Enock Mwepu, Emmanuel Banda and Fashion Sakala among others.
All things being equal, Zambia should not be struggling against Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and Namibia. We should be way bigger that these teams.
Midfielders Rainford Kalaba and Nathan Sinkala, both Africa Cup winners, should also be given another chance to return to the Chipolopolo setup and prove to Vandenbroeck whether they are capable of making a meaningful contribution or not.
Vandenbroeck should not allow personal differences to take centre stage in selecting national team players; qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals is a must.
I am appealing to fans to troop in numbers to Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka and cheer the under-20 national team when they face Burundi in the 2019 Niger Africa Cup of Nations last round first leg on Saturday.
Coach Charles Bwale should line up players that will rise to the occasion and score an avalanche of goals to render the return leg a ‘mere formality’.
As defending champions, the junior Chipolopolo have an obligation to qualify for the Niger finals and defend the crown.
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Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI