By SHAMAOMA MUSONDA-
NKANA captain Sydney Kalume has said elimination from the CAF 2014 Confederation Cup is a bitter pill to swallow.
Speaking upon arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) in Lusaka yesterday, Kalume described the loss to the Ivorian side Sewe Sport as unfortunate but that it was a part of the game which should be put in the past.
Kalume called on his team-mates to maintain a level head and focus on defending the MTN-FAZ Premier League title after failing to make the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, adding that losing was part of football and should be accepted by all.
“I am a footballer and I have come to know that sometimes you come across a loss in a game. This was one of them and as captain, I have to be strong and urge my fellow players to be strong and move on though it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” he said.
Nkana, needing to avoid defeat to make history by becoming the first Zambian club to reach the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sewe in Abidjan to finish third in the group with seven points. Al Ahly and Sewe advanced to the last four tied on nine points.
Kalume said lessons have been leant and promised fans that Nkana will do better next year as efforts will be put towards ensuring that the team retains the league title.
Defender, Donashano Malama said Nkana made mistakes which cost them but that the team had the ambition of going all the way to win the competition.
“We had a tough game. I think we made a few mistakes which cost us the match. We had the ambition to go all the way in the competition, but unfortunately our journey ends here. We faced a very good Sewe team and we wish them good luck,” he said.
Coach Beston Chambeshi said the loss was disappointing, especially that Nkana was playing for a win and not a draw.
“We wanted to win, our strategy was to win but we conceded from defensive lapses. We conceded two goals in quick succession but on the overall, the team had a good run in the competition and their exposure has made them stronger,” he said.
Chambeshi added that the mental strength that has been gained from playing in continental football would inspire the team to reclaiming the league title and perform well in next year’s CAF Champions League.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) treasurer Kelvin Mutafu called on Nkana to regroup and focus on the league and that they should forget about the unimpressive loss to Sewe.
He also hailed Zambia Sports Fans Association (ZASPOFA) strongman Peter Makembo for being there for the team in good and bad times.
Makembo, who saw off the team when it left for Ivory Coast, was at hand to welcome the Zambian champions back at KKIA before they connected to Kitwe via Ndola.