Wishful thinking!
Published On January 7, 2022 » 8917 Views» By Times Reporter » Columns, Sports
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I have and still continue to receive queries concerning Zambia’s chances to participate at the Cameroon 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals that get underway at the weekend with 24 teams, Zimbabwe included. 
I was not sure as to whether to laugh and simply cry at the desire by some people to see the once almighty Chipolopolo compete at Africa’s premier competition-the AFCON via the ‘backdoor’ for lack of a better term.
To laugh in the sense that Zambia failed to qualify for the final tournament after finishing third behind Zimbabwe and group winners Algeria.
And thirdly, it is wishful thinking to pray for the Warriors to be banned so that Zambia can be accorded the chance to compete at the AFCON-the same wish the South Africans are harbouring I am told.
But truth be told that Zambia is better placed to watch the proceedings from home.  
Why do I say so? The team failed to qualify for the finals and currently there is no coach to assemble a squad that can go and perform a miracle expect from recording an embarrassing first round exit. 
It would be best that our FAZ concentrates its energies on employing a coach that will be able to deliver the results that fans have been yawning for including qualification to a major tournament. 
That should start with a robust talent identification of players and not relying on over-hyped names on a used sheet for that matter.
We have enough time before the next AFCON qualifiers begin and this time can be used to seriously reflect and find solutions to the ills that have invaded the Zambian game.
It is unjustifiable for Zambia not be at the AFCON finals and reality will hit the Zambians come Sunday when Cameroon play Burkina Faso in the opening match and worse off when Zimbabwe face Senegal in their opening clash.
I would be comfortable to watch Zimbabwe face Senegal than Zambia to take up the place because the result, as was the case during the last friendly match, could be disastrous. 
In addition, our star players must learn what a heart and patriotism is from Zimbabwe and Malawi who are our very own historical bloodline who have deservedly qualified to AFCON while we shamelessly gloat at boardroom qualification.
 It think it is compulsory that our national team players watch both Zimbabwe and Malawi so that they know what national sacrifice means, to fly your national flag high and not just excitedly taking social media selfies on the plane or team bus after a loss like nothing ever happened. 
Meanwhile, the money which people plan to use in Cameroon incase a miracle happens can be saved can be put to good use by properly planning for the future so that Zambia can once again dominant the COSAFA region then start thinking of AFCON qualification then later the World Cup. 
There was excitement when Zambia humbled Mauritania 4-0 at National Heroes Stadium with the former coach bragging that he had moulded a strong team to compete at any level until the Tunisians showed us that we are still very far from what we convinced ourselves to be. 
And the earlier that reality sinks into the minds of some people the better than ranking the team where it is not.
 Let us take a true and very sober retrospection of what has gone wrong including the problems that have made Zambia not to be at the AFCON finals the last three years and try to move from there rather than having wishful thinking of Zimbabwe getting banned. 
Zimbabwe 100 percent deserve to be at the AFCON finals despite the backroom issues and I pray FIFA and CAF allows the team to compete as it would be unfair on the innocent players who have put in so much to earn the ticket and good luck to our brothers against Senegal.
 For now, let us enjoy watching the AFCON on television, and maybe, just maybe we can learn one or two things to make us qualify next time.
 Happy New Year and let’s interact via email at eliaschipepo@gmail.com

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