SO Zambia lost to Togo just days before a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying match away to Guinea Bissau.
Playing the right kind of opponent in the friendly, a West African head of a competitive game against another West Africa country was a perfect chance to assess Zambia’s chances against Guinea Bissau.
The Chipolopolo can not afford to drop points when it plays in Bissau as this will hand the initiative to either Guinea or even Congo Brazzaville who could go top should Zambia and Guinea draw.
And the loss to Togo does not send the right signal considering the gravity of the game ahead.
But that is not the most alarming thing about the outing to West Africa. Instead, it is the weakened Zambia side that faced Togo that comes as a major concern to me.
Not that I am justifying a loss, no, but I am wondering what the essence of such a high level friendly would be if the players that would feature the main game do not play in the preparatory game.
Zambia did not have four senior players in that team and there is no compelling reason why they all missed the game against Togo.
Rainford Kalaba, the team skipper, Kennedy Mweene, one of the most senior members of the team, Chisamba Lungu and Nathan Sinkala all missed the game and yet they are going to start the game against Guinea Bissau.
I will straight away direct my finger at players for this one because we all know that football seasons have closed almost all over the world and I can not understand why players can miss such a high level and important preparatory match.
And these players are hoping to play a low key international friendly against the Gambia.
Just what will be the point in travelling all the way to Togo to feature some players that probably might not even make the bench when the competitive game comes?
While a school of thought can argue that some players get exposed to high level football, the nature of this international friendly was to get the players have a feel of playing in West Africa in a week’s time and how well they can respond to pressure and the crowd.
Skipper Rainford Kalaba is not new to these misses especially in international friendly matches and while there is always a convincing reason as to why he missed, the coincidence that come from the national team captain raises more questions than answers.
We have heard news of injuries, and even when asked to report to camp so the national team medical team independently verify the extent of the injury, the nation has not been informed on how it went or even at all the captain reported to camp.
There has been a funeral and other reasons and while this can not be argued much, the absence of key players from an international friendly match does not help in the preparations and defeats the whole purpose of arranging these games.
We need our stars in both friendly and competitive games.