Editor's Choice Football Sport

We need fresh start

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
NATIONAL team assistant coach Aggrey Chiyangi is spot-on to call for the overhaul of the national team following a spate of poor results that have turned Zambia into a laughing stock.
Most of the players in the current team are aging and we need fresh legs to take Zambian football forward. Any other route may only work to exacerbate the situation.
Let me recite a quote from Chiyangi: “Since we won the 2012 Africa Cup in Gabon, we have reached a stage where we need to rebuild the team because we cannot continue relying on the same players. They are also aging, so we have to think about the future. That’s why we have to bring in young players so that they can also gain experience,” Chiyangi said after Zambia lost 4-2 on penalties to Swaziland in the quarter-finals of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Challenge Cup.
The likes of Kennedy Mweene, Buchizya Mfune, Rainford Kalaba, Christopher Katongo, Collins Mbesuma and Winston Kalengo are all in their 30s and their performance is over the hill.
We need to identify youngsters who will play alongside these stars and learn one or two tricks and with time the older players could be phased out.
We need to look beyond the 2012 Africa Cup stars.
Zambia has abundant talent and all we need to do is for Super Division coaches to ‘camp’ in rural areas and identify future stars.
In the past, Nkana and Mufulira Wanderers used to ‘import’ players from Luapula Province while Green Buffaloes trekked to North-Western Province.
A number of players from North-Western Province went on to don national team colours.
We need those days back.
The loss to Swaziland should be a wake-up call.
It was a painful exit but time has come for us to call a spade a spade and not a big spoon.
Some players were not supposed to be near the team but for some reason, they were on the plane to Windhoek, Namibia. Others even went to Guinea Bissau.
There is need to pick players on current performance and not on past glory. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, older players seem to be doing better.
It’s very unfortunate that we can be losing to teams like Swaziland but that perhaps shows us how much work there is ahead of us. The Football Association of Zambia executive, government, fans and everyone must work towards a common goal.
Hats off to Zesco United for starting the 2016 CAF Champions League Group A campaign on a winning note.
Zesco beat Egyptian giants Al Ahly 3-2 in Ndola to top the group with three points at par with Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, who beat Ivorian side Asec Mimosas 1-0 in Abidjan.
If Zesco display the same form in the remaining five matches, then a semi-final slot is certain.
The players were confident and did not give Al Ahly respect. I was impressed with John Chin’gandu and two-goal hero Cletus Chama.
My appeal to the Zesco technical bench is to work on the defence. With a tight defence, Al Ahly could not have scored the two goals.
For now, let’s celebrate Al Ahly’s downfall.
phiristeve4@gmail.com, sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm

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