As CAF President Ahmad Ahmad converged a presser on Saturday, on the eve of the 2019 U-20 Africa Cup of the nations final, a wave of nostalgia was triggered, resonating to the events of 2 years ago in Zambia.
In 2017, when a CAF translator trudged into the pavilion where the media operates during sporting events, the media center, at National heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
“Excuse me members of the press,” he said.
“The CAF President [By then] Issa Hayatou will hold a press conference in the next 30 minutes. You are therefore invited to attend this presser.”
I alongside foreign Journalist friends, Osasu Obayiuwana, to name just a few – quickly traversed to the conference pavilion where Hayatou held the presser; there, he subsequently lauded Zambia for successfully staging the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of the nations.
Not only did Zambia successfully stage the U-20 continental showpiece – but also put up a successful campaign as the Junior Chipolopolo went on to beat Senegal 2-0 in the final and be crowned Champions at their homestead for the first time in the annals of the championship.
On the back of this triumph the Junior Chipolopolo were biting a bullet against the mudslinging and derogatory remarks, sadly from fellow Zambians.
Fashion Sakala bore the bigger chunk of the brunt as the striker was at the center of age cheating innuendos.
Some scrupulous Zambians took the trolling too far, inventing the remarks that Sakala never ever uttered.
They falsely quoted him to have said he waited for 30 years to see Zambia qualify for the U-20 Africa Cup of the nations’ quarterfinals. They were perplexed: how someone who waited for 30 years to witness something happening can still be an U-20.
Worse, Zambia’s well documented history of age cheating, that saw them being thrown out of the 2016 U-17 Cosafa Championship came back to haunt them.
Nevertheless, the lads turned a deaf ear to detractors and the negative press.
Rather, they focused on what holds the water – consequently made Zambia proud and carried Africa’s hope in South Korea at the U-20 FIFA World Cup but unfortunately were subdued by Italy in the quarterfinals.
And when Commentator Steve Banyard made derogatory remarks against Zambia – that it was a country once lavaged with poverty and HIV: a group of angry fans on social media mistakenly besieged Peter Drury’s Facebook account. They hurled series of slurs at the English Commentator before realizing their grenades were being unleashed at the wrong person.
MALI ARE CHAMPIONS
On Sunday, a new Champion was installed as Mali beat Senegal to claim the crown.
How painful it must have been for the Junior Chipolopolo – seeing their title slowly slipping away from their fingers minus putting a defence.
We’ll wait for another decade to see the Junior Chipolopolo back on the top? God forbid.
With the right attitude, pragmatism, goodwill and planning from Football house. The Junior Chipolopolo will surely hog the limelight once again.
OTHERWISE; from me James Sibeleki, here in Livingstone, the tourist capital city of Zambia – wishing you all our readers a fruitful week ahead and the Lord’s blessings. Adiós.