As Zambia gets awash with colour-red in the Valentine festivities, I’ll join the mood by sending lots of love to Zambian football which is my passion.
This message will especially go to Zesco United who this afternoon go into the CAF Champions League game against Al Ghazal of South Sudan in a game delayed by a day.
But a more appropriate message to Zesco can be borrowed from Lee Kawanu, the FAZ chairperson for Youth Football who said Zambia fears no team on the continent and I believe Zesco should just stamp that mark on the Juba side.
Kawanu, in talking about the draws for the Madagascar 2017 Africa Under-17 Championships, said qualifying to these continental Championships should not be an issue since the target is the World Cup.
He said Zambia’s level now was about reaching the World Cup of the various youth tournaments and making the African championship needed no compromise.
“At this stage, our teams fear no team in the qualifiers,” Kawanu said.
Quite some positive vibes from the FAZ man and this should be the case with all spheres of Zambian football, Zesco United inclusive.
If Zambia is to establish itself as a football powerhouse, all national teams should be seen to be stepping up by not just qualifying to these continental championships but also performing well there.
The same goes with the clubs as they engage in continental clubs football.
Zambia, not too long ago won the Africa Nations Cup (Afcon) but their force did not trickle down to the clubs and the euphoria with which Zambia won the 2012 Afcon just disappeared as quickly as it came.
I will point out that when Egypt was winning the Africa Cup three times in a row, Al Ahly and Zamalek were winning the CAF Champions league at will.
When the Democratic Republic of Congo was winning the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) on both occasions, TP Mazembe was an African force.
In fact, in 2014, Congo DR had two teams in the semi-finals with AS Vita of Kinshasa joining TP Mazembe though the Kinshasa side went on to reach the final which they lost to Entente de Sétif of Algeria.
So Zesco United and George Lwandamina will be the beacon for Zambia and this calls for them to keep up Zambia’s good game and perform well in the Champions League.
Zesco United and Nkana have rightly fought and made the Group Stage of the Champions League, but ask any Zambian, it is about time a Zambian team won the Champions League.
That may be too high a target to set considering how the clubs have performed in these competitions.
But a more sober approach will be to ask Zesco to make the semi-finals of this year’s CAF Champions League which demands that they first make the Group Stage and finish in the top two of the group stage.
With Zambia’s rich and respected football history, that won’t be too much to ask from Zesco United.
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