By SANDRA MWILA –
COACH Fighton Simukonda says Madagascar’s withdrawal from the Congo Brazzaville 2015 All Africa Games (AAG) qualifiers is Zambia’s gain.
Madagascar have reportedly withdrawn from taking part from the qualifiers gifting Zambia a place in the final round of qualifiers where the team will face the winner of the Gabon versus Nigeria clash.
The Zambia Under-23 soccer team was set to guest the Islanders in Antananarivo on February 21 before playing host two weeks later.
Simukonda said in an interview after yesterday’s morning training that the pulling out of Madagascar from the qualifiers will work to his team’s advantage.
But Simukonda cautiously said that Zambia will continue working hard to earn the qualification to the AAG and that it would have been nice for the team to play and eliminate Madagascar on their own.
“Madagascar’s withdrawal from the All Africa Games qualifiers is good for us as it will work to our advantage but we would have loved to face them in the first round.
We needed to play them and get the qualification to next stage. We will not sit idle because we are not playing in the first round but continue preparing adequately for the rest of the qualifiers,” he said.
The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) is yet to receive official communication but a source within Football House said Madagascar has written to Confederation of African Football (CAF) about the decision.
Meanwhile, Simukonda has praised the work rate of the players as the team breaks camp today.
He said the players struggled during the first phase of preparations but had improved greatly after intense training in the past two weeks.
Simukonda, however, bemoaned the turnout of players and that only only 16 out of the 34 summoned reported for camp adding that he was hoping for a better turnout in the next stage of camping.
Players from Zesco United and Power Dynamos, who are preparing for CAF Inter Club championships, were excused from the training camp.