By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
‘CHICKEN’ George Lwandamina yesterday said Zesco United meets his ambition to conquer Africa by winning the CAF 2018 Champions League.
Lwandamina said this when he was officially unveiled as Zesco coach returning to the post after a couple of seasons during which he was in charge of Tanzanian side Young Africans (popularly known as Yanga).
The former Mufulira Wanderers defender who led Zesco to the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League in 2016 said he could have gone anywhere else upon leaving Tanzania but decided to return to the one club that he believed met his ambitions.
He said he was aiming to better his CAF Champions League record by winning the championship.
Lwandamina said he was happy to return to Zesco because the club was ambitious and was determined to continue dominating not only in the local league but to rule Africa as well.
“We reached the semi-final (in 2016). That is another benchmark which, as an individual, I should like to beat. I don’t compete with others. I compete with my record. If I can achieve greater than what I did previously, I will be very happy and it is Zesco that will give me that platform,” Lwandamina said.
Zesco has qualified to the group stage of the Champions League and would play the first game of the group against Mbabane Swallows at home on Saturday.
Lwandamina would be assisted by first assistant Alfred Lupiya, who is currently coaching Zesco Victoria Falls while Emmanuel Siwale remains the second assistant.
Asked what had changed from the time he left and now, Lwandamina said it was too early for him to note any differences he was quick to mention that the influx of foreign players and coaches into the Zambian league was a sign that the league had grown and was becoming attractive.
Zesco last month announced they had rehired Lwandamina on a three-year contract but could not unveil him as he still had pending issues with Yanga.
Lwandamina left Zesco in 2016 after guiding the team to a semi-final berth of the Champions League to join Yanga but decided to return to Zesco just after one season where he helped the Tanzanian giants win the league title but faltered in continental competition.
Zesco secretary Richard Mulenga said the club hired Lwandamina because they believed he would provide the leadership needed to achieve its goals.
Mulenga said Zesco had continued to dominate the local league and what was remaining was to conquer Africa and added that Lwandamina was better placed for the task looking at his credentials and achievements.
“Apart from dominating the local league, we have other ambitions. We want to bring the CAF Champions League home and I believe Lwandamina is the man for the job,” Mulenga said.
He said the club would also use Lwandamina, who is a CAF trainer, to groom coaches who are attached to Zesco’s developmental teams.
Mulenga said there would be need for Zesco to promote most of their players from developmental teams instead of looking outside the country.
“We have a number of developmental teams but very few players are coming through the ranks to break into the main team. Each season, we have to go outside the country to purchase players. That now has to be a thing of the past,” he said.
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