It’s business as usual at FAZ

After winning the 2012 Afcon in Gabon, Libreville there was a strong feeling that Zambia would dominate the summit of African football and stay up there rubbing shoulders with heavy weights like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

As African cup champions we were expected to advance at the Afcon 2013 and have a decent away results in the world cup qualifiers. Our post Afcon 2012 performance was hardly satisfactory with a string of draws and the goal missing jinx re-surfacing.

There was also a sense of denial on the part of coach coupled with blind over confidence from most fans. With Zambia missing out on the World Cup 2014, it’s yet another time for the old cliché of ‘going back to the drawing board’ to kick in.Wait a minute! We have been going back to the drawing board for a long time now. Hasn’t it registered to anyone that maybe the drawing board is faulty? Or to put in less metaphorically our planning is poor.

Administratively FAZ together with clubs need to gradually remodel their clubs from charity organisations to more commercial ventures. Apart from the talent on display, clubs need to know that attracting a fan to the stadium requires more than football.

Things like comfortable stadium atmosphere, including security and hygiene, supplementary services like beverages, fan based competitions and pitch side entertainment can also attract more people. The much sought advertisers will always look for a huge audience be it on TV or in the terraces and the onus is on clubs to grow their numbers and their visibility.

Other revenue streams FAZ and clubs can pursue apart from ticketing include, stadium naming rights, shirt sponsorships, brand endorsements, merchandising of club apparel like t-shits, scarfs, sportswear, etc.

The fact that these ideas are not new to FAZ, the lack of implementation is still troubling. Surely FAZ’s has the impetus to mobilise a revolving fund that can be strictly applied to the clubs revenue streams or advertising infrastructure.The biggest failure of the current FAZ administration has been their failure to capitalise on the 2012 success to propel Zambia to more success.

The current FA have all the bragging rights as far as the Afcon 2012 is concerned. Nonetheless, 2012 Afcon legacy reputation has vanished so quickly and we are literary out of FIFA’s Africa top 10 ranks at the moment. What Zambian football needs basically is not only resources but resourcefulness, technical improvement in youth development and coaching and professionalism in the administration.

As expected the administration has done everything possible to shield themselves from criticism using the 2012 trophy. Despite the 2012 milestone FAZ needs to do more on the technical side of things. Let’s bring back the old days of the exciting youth talent by organising more youth tournaments.

The fact is that the pool of talent has narrowed. Today you won’t see street football on our streets, neither are club able to maintain large squads to include under 17 or 20. FAZ needs to apply resources with a long-term developmental approach. For instance we spent vast sums on camping in South Africa in the name of better facilities, when we could have acquired our own permanent facilities.

We have been spending too much on foreign coaches and their Assistants when we could have been sending our local coaches for advanced training. Most of all, in the last two years we over depended on the Afcon 2012 squad without drafting alternative player to compete for places.

There was clear no professionalism and bias from the coach as he continuously ignored genuine calls for Fwayo, Kola, clifford and many other competitive options until it was too late. Consequently we eventually failed the world cup hurdle due to one or two complacent performances.

Talking of the Zambian senior team’s game, Herve Renard’s performance after Afcon 2012 was suspect, as a matter of fact it was below average and many too often his tactical abilities failed short. Any honest fan can see some basics missing from our game like shooting at goal especially outside the 18 box or a couple of set piece specialist our players’ physical stature.

Herve Renard’s long balls approach just never worked out at all for Zambia. We believe in ‘bola panshi’ and Monsieur Renard should have known that. Zambia’s strength is in short quick passes and we should have used that more often. One doesn’t need to be coach to know that Chisamba is an up-field player and very risky defensively.

Clifford is our only experienced capable scoring winger. You can’t play long balls if you want the best, Mbesuma’s box threat. Mayuka stature was never ideal for an almost lone striker role. If you can keep Fwayo in the bench, you are either a sadist or in need of a psychiatrist.

If Zambia has to hire another expatriate coach, let’s get a full package this time and get somebody who can consult and work with local coaches. Someone who can psyche up players, improve the shooting skills, discipline and provide equal opportunities to all players.

The fact that Kalu is even contemplating Buelleme is shockingly laughable (another piece of evidence of Kalu’s unprofessionalism), with all due respect, the job is not only too big for Buelleme, he simply doesn’t qualify.

Issues of professionalism need to be highlighted here. It’s only in Zambia where a coach can be so unprofessional and arrogant to deny a player an opportunity for personal reasons, like Herve did to Clifford. That was totally unacceptable. The notion of Kalu’s unfettered interference with coach selection or team selection must not be allowed, like was the case in the illegal firing of cult hero, Bonetti.

There has been too much hearsay about FAZ officials, especially Kalu, getting too involved in players contracts to the extent of acting as agents. FAZ claim to be helping players on a courtesy basis. Well we couldn’t be damned to say their help has been pathetic as most deals have be marred by contract or ownership disputes.

Lastly, FAZ needs to utilise the black out in competitive games to re-strategize. The administration needs to be restructured and if that would require hiring consultants from successful models in South Africa, or changing the FAZ constitution, so be it.

The league competitions should also be restructured. Lets have new broader cup competitions. Imagine what a fixture like Shangombo FC vs. Power dynamos, or Mwense united vs. Zanaco, would mean for fans involved. From a fans perspective there is so much politics in FAZ.

For instance the last few FAZ annual general meetings have been dominated by politics including bitter election rivalry and manipulation of delegate attendance. Little attention is paid to commercial or technical issues. It is hard to identify the FAZ Chief Executive who should be responsible for driving FAZ strategy from a commercial, technical and administrative sense.

Surprisingly, Kalu hasn’t taken ‘enough leaf’ from SAFA who have a well sponsored league and which is constantly improving. Most people in FAZ may be good at the technical aspect of football but have fallen short in administration.

We need to graduate from the culture of expecting our players to die hard for Zambia when we do little in enhancing their development. To the people at FAZ, we need vibrancy, creativity and professionalism from you. Business as usual wont take us anywhere, its time to do things differently.

By Concerned Soccer Fan