SOCCER REVIEW with STEPHEN PHIRI
SOMEONE out there has touched the raw nerve of national team coach Wedson Nyirenda for, I guess, questioning his wisdom of digging deep into history in his national team selection.
I am not sure who the culprit is – and I hope it’s not one of you – who has doubted the eye of Nyirenda, which spotted some players you may well have taken out of your list of elites.
There seems to have been disapproval by some over the selection of strikers Ignatius Lwipa and Jonas Sakuwaha as Nyirenda is getting quite some stick for his choice.
The coach reacted with some teasing dismissive anger, if one was to consider this quote: “We must not become judges before we go into the courtroom. I have seen something in the two players. They must leave certain things to experts. Every Zambian will be given an opportunity. I am a transparent man and I am happy Football Association of Zambia president Andrew Kamanga is a transparent man.
“An Eagle’s eye sees better than any of us. The same people called me names when I called Fwayo Tembo. They wanted to bury the boy alive, but can they say the same today? It was the same story on Collins Mbesuma, but who is scoring goals for us, is it not Mbesuma? I know where this is coming from, it is from frustrated people.”
Excuse me sir, the job of national team coach is tough because there are basically as many coaches in Zambia as the population; everyone fancies themselves as coaches! By the way, sometimes public opinion is right but I know that Nyirenda doesn’t have to be a consummate democrat.
Zambians have reposed the responsibility of coaching the team in him and he is better off left to make decisions he believes are best for the squad. He is the man with that eagle’s eye and it is assumed he makes the right decisions, much as one may not agree with him.
But that does not stop anyone from disagreeing with him. Fans can express their views if they feel like and they should not be gagged. Nyirenda should take criticism, if any, right on his chin (hope it’s made of granite) and let the people talk or write.
He should not see enemies in people who criticise him, rather he should view such as partners in the development of the game.
By the way, I also don’t agree with the decision to recall players who have proven nothing. Isn’t our league four games old? So, when were these players assessed? Last season? If so, what was their performance last year?
But I have no powers to reverse the decisions because that is not my domain; mine is to write fairly and objectively.
Nyirenda should take heart because even coaches in European leagues are criticised quite strongly.
I am not talking about Arsene Wenger, who has known no peace since Arsenal’s downward spiral took a worse-off spin a few months back.
My appeal to the fans is to allow Nyirenda to select players and support him throughout.
If his choices are wrong and he hopes they will be rehabilitated in the national team, it will show.
Quite honestly, I expected Nyirenda to focus more on the future rather than the past. The future I am referring to are the under-20 boys instead of the 30 years-plus.
Best wishes Wada.