By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
CHIPOLOPOLO skipper, Christopher Katongo has said he will retire from international football after the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.
Katongo said this when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview that he was available to play for the Chipolopolo until after the 2015 AFCON but would still remain active at club level.
He said he still had potential to contribute positively to the future prospects of the Chipolopolo and that his experience with other senior players in the team, was needed to inspire the upcoming footballers.
Katongo, who is eyeing a coaching career after hanging up his boots, said he had gained massive experience which was key for a team’s success.
“I still have energy to play for the national team and I think the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations will be my last at national level. I will not be making any sense if I quit now because I am still needed and I can achieve more for the team. Let’s wait for 2015 and see where we can take the team,” he said.
Katongo said there were three phases before one can play for the Chipolopolo categorising the stages as COSAFA and CECAFA Senior Challenge Cups and the last being featuring in the Africa and World Cup qualifiers.
He said it was therefore important for players like him to help the upcoming footballers to gradually step up and begin starring at the highest level of the national team.
“The third phase is very important and the coach must try to keep players who have reached this level for sometime because of experience. The reason why experienced players must stay is to allow for a smooth transition of the younger generation,” he said.
And Katongo noted that lack of determination and self belief were major obstacles hindering Zambian footballers’ breakthrough in Europe’s elite leagues.
He said Zambia had a lot of talented players who needed to develop a high sense of self belief if they were to break into European football.
Katongo challenged the French Ligue I side, Sochaux duo of Stoppila Sunzu and Nathan Sinkala to leave a legacy as their performance would be a benchmark for clubs in the league to sign more Zambian players.
The 2012 AFCON winning captain, who has been training with the MTN-FAZ Premier League side Green Buffalos following the expiry of his contract at the Chinese side Henan Jianye, ruled out a return to the Asian country.
“I am a free agent and at the moment the door is open to everybody, my agent is currently working out something where I can further my football career. But I am not going back to China unless they offer something big on the table,” he said.
Meanwhile, Katongo said the slapping of players by former Chipolopolo coach Hervé Renard was not aimed at punishing them but merely helping them maximise their potential.
He said Renard’s act was aimed at helping the players reach greater heights and cited Chisamba Lungu, who was slapped at the back during a match after making a few mistakes, as an example.