THE Chipolopolo might have failed to qualify for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup finals but the performance of Zambian players abroad continues to help fans forget about the miserable campaign as well as three successive failures to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Strikers Fashion Sakala and Patson Daka including midfielder Enock Mwepu continue to make headlines in Europe following their splendid performances of late.
The trio has been performing well for their country and putting Zambia’s flag on the World map. The performances have brought pride among Zambian’s that have supported these players from the time they came on the scene in the local league.
Zambian fans now have something to look forward to at the weekend and during midweek games when the players feature for their respective teams in the league, UEFA competitions and cup games.
To get you up to speed, Fashion scored his first career hat-trick in Rangers 6-1 win over Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership.
Mwepu opened his account for the club when he scored two goals in a space of a week in the league cup and the most memorable against his childhood club-Liverpool-with a stunner from 25 yards as Brighton and Hove Albion rallied from 2-0 to draw the match 2-2.
Daka made headlines when he scored his first English Premier League goal against Manchester United and followed that up with four goals in the UEFA Europa League and provided a crucial assist for James Maddison in the 2-1 win over Brentford.
While the boys continue to make headlines, of course along with players like Emmanuel Banda and Edward Chilufya in the Swedish League with also Evans Kangwa doing well for Arsenal Tula in Russia, concerns remain over the dismal performance of the national team.
And the solution is to ensure Zambia exports a lot of players to these recognised leagues so that the players can be coached by highly qualified managers and in return our game back home will profit from it.
It will not do the country any good to just have three to five top performing players unlike is the case with countries like Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, not forgetting the likes of Equatorial Guinea who have flooded players in these European leagues.
For them, it is normal when their players score in Europe because they cannot pick on one or three as they have depth and it is even normal to watch their player’s score-something Zambia has to finally become accustomed too.
This will largely depend on our Zambian coaches producing the best material in the Super League to play for the national team and subsequently attract the best clubs in Africa and the World to play at that high level.
Equally, there is a serious need for our Zambian coaches to upgrade their qualifications as well as know-how of the game so that they do not remain behind as is the case now where the likes of Daka, Mwepu and Fashion are coached by highly qualified coaches.
The boys have gotten the high-level exposure going by their play but the problem is when they come to play for the national team and find that the coach falls way below the understanding of the game as is the case at their clubs.
The imbalance needs to be worked on immediately especially that Zambia has for now opted to have a Zambian in-charge of the team.
Chipolopolo will need a coach with massive experience not just through paperwork but both theory and practical so that he can be able to coach these foreign-based players fully when they report for camp and avoid embarrassments of players telling their friends how things are done in Europe.
So as Chambeshi’s short term contract ends after the match against Tunisia, FAZ should seriously look at bringing a coach that can take the team to the next level and once again become competitive at COSAFA level and qualify for the Africa Cup.
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