He is lying – Grant refutes Fashion Sakala’s claims 

Chipolopolo Boys head coach Avram Grant says the claims by forward Fashion Sakala concerning his team selection are false accusations. 

Grant who was speaking during a press conference at Football House on Monday afternoon said he has never faced such a situation where a player resorted to lies after leaving him out of the team in his 51 years of coaching. 

Grant explained that his fall out with the Chipata born striker started at AFCON, before the Morocco match. 

“In 51 years of coaching all my decisions were completely professional, you can not achieve all this if you are not professional. 

Part of my job is picking players , I chose players all my life. Shevcheko was not happy, Andre Ayew was not happy. 

But I have never faced such a reaction from a player because I did not choose him. Never faced the lies , complete lies of a player because I did not choose him to the team, suddenly am not a good coach etc,” Grant told the ZamFoot Crew. 

Grant explained that the situation started before the game against Morocco when he decided to play Lameck Banda ahead of him.

The former Chelsea gaffer said he previously had a very good relationship with Fashion Sakala who even used to tell him on several occasions that he changed the mentality of the team. 

“I had a good relationship with Fashion Sakala. Everything started at the AFCON, to be honest until the game against Morocco. 

He even told me again and again that I changed my mentality and everything is good. We played the first game against DR Congo. He did not play well, it happened and he was not the only one, it happens even to big players. 

We played against Tanzania, I changed the system, he did not play well, changed with Kennedy Musonda who played very well. 

Against Morocco, I decided to play in that position Lameck Banda instead of Fashion Sakala because I thought his work ethic was not enough to play against the best defender in Africa, Hakimi. We even did this in training, he did not train  well and He made some faces,” Grant said. 

“We played against Morocco, I think in the second half, we played very well. I made a Substitution, In my opinion he did not make the effort that we needed, it’s not his fault, his work ethic I did not like, I did not like his attitude. 

Before the tournament in Malawi I sent audios to five players that I was not with their performance and effort. For Fashion I did not say he was not a good player,  or not a good person , I said was not happy with his performance, work ethic and behaviour before and during the game against Morocco.”

“The other players who I thought did not play well, called me to ask what they needed to improve, they have improved and are back in the team. 

“I thought he would also call and ask what he needed to do better. His answer, who are you to speak to me like this? You are not the boss of football in Zambia. He even made a threat if I text him again. Of course I texted him, instead of dealing with the accusation , take responsibility for your behaviour and say that it will not happen again. He did not answer. 

“Then I decided that for the two important games that we have , I need to keep the harmony of the team. I can not allow the behaviour of a superstar and some that are not equal to others. I did not call me to the team, since then I am not a good coach, I was very good before,” he added. 

Grant categorically refused the claims that he tried to get Fashion Sakala to sign with his agent saying each word about this situation was a lie. 

“But more especially, he accused me of things that no one has accused me of in 51 years of coaching, I have coached everywhere, I have dealt with everyone and nobody has accused me like this. Let me be clear, it’s false accusations, it’s complete lies, each word of this. I never told Fashion Sakala, nor any other player in my history, to sign with any agent. Not here or anywhere. Let me make it clear , each word of this is a complete lie, this is the fact, this is the truth,” he said. 

“I understand the player is angry, does not agree with my decision, I understand, sometimes my assistant does not agree with my decision but this is my job to keep the harmony of the team, that everybody is equal and no one is a superstar, no one is above anyone. I told him to be modest, your job is to play with no excuses,no complaints. I don’t know why he turned to excuses. I can understand that the player is angry, I can understand even if he decides to be bitter and not be positive, I don’t agree but I understand.”

“But I will not understand that you recorded your friend, the media guy, the person who works with you. I don’t understand you put garbage on other players and blamed the Association. 

And I will never accept that you tell lies about me, it never happened what he said. It will never happen, I go with integrity all my life and that’s what I wanted to make clear,” he added. 

Grant continued; We have important games, I will continue to keep the harmony of the team. I will continue to tell the players that the team is more important than any other player. I will continue to tell them when you say I want to give everything for Zambia, show it on and off the pitch you have responsibility. I will continue to do the job for Zambia, I will continue with this.

Look I had a good relationship with Fashion Sakala, what happened, I did not pick him in the team and instead of checking himself or discussing with me, I always tell the players the door is open. 

I sent the same message, not the same words to other players who I was not happy with, they called and said what do I need to do and told each one of them what they needed to do and they are back after I did not pick them for the Malawi tournament. This is how players need to be, players need to speak on the pitch.”

“I give you an example, Kennedy Musonda, I was not happy that he decided to play for his team instead of coming for the first day of training for the Ivory Coast , I did not pick him, I left him a message, that I was not happy with his behaviour, the national team is more important than anybody, you needed to come, he said thank you coach, he behaved nice and now he is back and an important player for us. I don’t take things personally but I have commitment to the team, they brought me here to bring different standards. 

“I don’t know why instead of calling me , he goes to the public. In my 51 years of football, I have never faced a reaction like this, lies like this to save himself. Take responsibility for your behaviour, what happened? Everyone makes mistakes, I make mistakes. My job is to put mirrors in front of mistakes but lies like this. Everything is a lie, nothing, not even one word of this is true. “

The gaffer however maintains that he has nothing against the former Rangers striker and says should he show that he knows he was wrong and proves that he won’t do it again the door is open for him.

“I don’t have anything against anyone, if he will play and he will know that he made a mistake, follow the criteria that I ask from the players, to take responsibility, not make excuses, no complaints , perform on the pitch and follow the values of the team , anything is possible,” he said. 

“I did not pick Kennedy Musonda. He is one of our key players when he is playing. I did not pick other players and now they are playing. He did something that I have never faced about this (team selection).”

“The first thing about coming back is to understand, I don’t even need him to apologise, but to know that he made a mistake, your job is to play on the pitch and not tell lies, and false accusations when someone has not picked you put garbage on other players, record your friend, he did it but he don’t need to do it. If I know that he knows that he did wrong and he won’t do it again, the door is open,” he added. 

The former Ghana boss also went on to advise players to do their speaking on the pitch and when not satisfied with his decision to reach out to him. 

“Generally the job of the players is to play on the pitch and if they have a problem is to call me, my door is open, I tell them why I did not pick them in order to improve them. Never in my life do I want to hurt a player, even Fashion Sakala now, I don’t want to hurt him. The door is open, speak with me. I don’t like players that make excuses, I like players that take responsibility. That’s what I teach, I did not blame anybody after losing, and did not make complaints. Maybe they are not happy with my answer but they will get a direct answer,” he said. 

“It will not affect my work, I will continue making professional decisions, I can tell you. Even you will not agree with all my decisions, the FA, etc but that’s my job to make these decisions, I have done that since October 73 and I will continue as long as I am coach.”

When asked about the influence of his agent Nir Karin on his team selection Grant refused saying no one has any influence on his selection and everything is done by him. 

“Not Karin, other agents, not the association, not you journalists can affect my decisions, the decisions are completely mine, do you know why, because the blame is on me. Karin never tried, I don’t even know which player is with which agent. Look at the line ups. Do you have questions about Frankie Musonda, Sunzu, Lameck Banda , Patson Daka, Kennedy Musonda etc . You know when you check that I made football decisions but you are welcome not to agree with me,” he said. 

“I have been in football for many years. I know the influence for people that are lying. This is why I came here, normally I don’t have a reaction for what others say. But I think these lies, complete lies, to challenge my integrity for 51 years, I need to respond to this. People need to check the facts and the truth and not what people say. Most people understand that he is a bitter player, before I was a good coach and now he says I am a bad coach and makes deals.”

Grant’s player selection has been the centre of debate after a leaked  Fashion Sakala Jnr phone conversation hit social media. 

The Saudi Arabia based forward accused Grant of biassed selection, asking players to join his agent’s agency among other things. 

The Association has since opened an inquiry into the situation and the Israeli gaffer says he will avail himself to the Ethics Committee. 

“I don’t have anything to hide, whoever wants to check the facts they can do, if they want to take action against someone who lied that’s their agenda not mine.”

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