Letter: Kamanga’s 2 Months, 2 Weeks Under Review

KamangaIt is incredible that Andrew Kamanga 2 months and 2 weeks into his reign as FAZ President is under fire and is being compared with the previous incumbent who had 12 years to make a difference to Zambian football.

The failure to qualify to AFCON 2017 has been laid at Kamanga’s door when we all know the real reasons for this failure. We have terribly neglected junior soccer and the pipeline for new players has simply dried up.

I contend to this day that the 2012 Africa Cup win was a fluke and a blip in our downward trend for the last decade and a half. 2015 saw the nadir and lowest fortunes for Zambian soccer across the board. Every single national team from Under 17 to the Senior team was knocked out or failed to qualify for tournaments.

In 2016 Zambia was still calling upon or considering as its best strikers Collins Mbesuma, Jacob Mulenga, Christopher Katongo, Winstone Kalengo, James CHamanga who all played in the league 15 years ago and the first three all first played in the senior national in 2003/2004. All the players listed are around 33 to 36 years bracket.

Our midfield anchor was one Isaac Chansa also from that same generation. Our most creative midfielder is Rainford Kalaba also from the same era although slightly younger.

Our cupboard is bare. We have no top class youth client in the pipeline. The days of like 1993 when Zambia could field literally four squads of 22 players who could be competitive at an AFCON are gone. People forget that before the Gabon disaster the two Elijahs Tana and Litana were considered fringe national team players and were never called up even when 30 or 40 players were called up. Aggrey CHiyangi, Evans Sakala, John Lungu, Kenneth and Mordon Malitoli, Zeddy Saileti were all in the same boat.

Yet in the period 1994 to 1997 we were the best team in Africa !!! We were number 1 in the FIFA rankings and we were 2nd and 3rd in consecutive AFCONs.

Why ? We had depth and quality in that depth. Seriously speaking I do not see how say Chisamba Lungu could have played in any national team from 1992 to 1996 !!! I don’t think any of our defence would have held down even a squad place and our striking force definitely would not have matched what we had available that time.

The time to rebuild and revamp soccer has come. It will be painful but it has to be done. We need that conveyor belt of talent that for 30 years from 1970 to 2000 produced quality players. Green Buffaloes as League Champions in the mid 1970s went to Mwinilunga for a preseason tour and were stunned when a Mwinilunga Secondary School team almost beat them !!!

Football pitches in this country have become markets or built over. Schools soccer no longer exist. Age group soccer does not exist. Amateur soccer seems to have disappeared altogether.

The days when a game between Kabulonga Boys and Libala Secondary School could descend into a riot because of passionate fans as it did in 1985 are long gone. By the way the game was held at Woodlands Stadium simply because the crowd for the game was massive.

We have spent our soccer capital and it is time to invest and rebuild. Luchanga, Sautu, Musakanya and friends are good but not good enough.

Brian Mulenga

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