By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
RUSSIA-based midfielder Chisamba Lungu has turned down a call up to the national team for this Sunday’s Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group E formality qualifier against Kenya.
Chisamba is reportedly still bitter with the Chipolopolo technical bench after he was an unused substitute in the team’s 3-2 defeat to Guinea Bissau in June this year.
He had announced his early retirement from national team duty, but later rescinded the decision.
Chipolopolo team manager Stanley Kaseko confirmed in an interview that Lungu, who plays for FC Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast, will not be available for the game despite giving him a call up.
Kaseko, however, could not give details why the midfielder refused to honour the call up.
He said all correspondence was done to let Lungu travel and an air ticket was sent to the player.
“Chisamba won’t be coming for this game. He declined to come. We did everything to enable him travel but he has refused to come. So we cannot force him if he is not ready. He will be considered for future engagements,” Kaseko said.
Chisamba complained of being subjected to the bench in a crucial AFCON qualifier against Guinea Bissau, adding that the coach did not explain to him why he was made to “warm the bench” because it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to call him from Russia and made to sit on the bench.
It was not the first time the player was complaining about not being used as he once expressed similar sentiments when then head coach Honour Janza did not use him in the team’s 0-0 draw against Mozambique in the 2015 Africa Cup qualifiers.
Lungu on Sunday helped his side to force a 1-1 draw when he scored an equaliser in the 87th minute against Arsenal Tula.
Meanwhile, strikers Winston Kalengo and Lewis Macha were the first foreign-based players to join camp as the Chipolopolo resumed training yesterday in readiness for this weekend’s qualifier against Kenya.
All locally-based players reported and took part in recovery training yesterday at the Trade Fair Ground in Ndola.
Kalengo plays for AC Leopards while Macha recently joined South African giants Kaizer Chiefs.
Kaseko said the TP Mazembe duo of Rainford Kalaba and Nathan Sinkala were scheduled to be in camp last night while Stoppila Sunzu, Emmanuel Mbola and Lubambo Musonda were expected in the course of the week.
Guinea Bissau lead the group with 10 points, while Congo Brazzaville and Zambia are second and third, respectively, with six points each. Kenya are bottom on four points.
Kaseko further said the team was taking the game against Kenya seriously despite it being a formality.