Zambia bid for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals

World CupSOCCER REVIEW with NEBAT MBEWE
THE bid for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals is firmly back on track; qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup finals hangs by a thread; and Zambia’s under-20 is in tatters in more ways than one.
These, in a nutshell, are the good, the bad and the ugly scenes that have been unfolding over the past week.
The good news first: It was beginning to look like Zambia’s protest over Sudan using an ineligible player was an attempt in futility.  So when FIFA announced that Zambia’s protest had been upheld and the Chipolopolo have been awarded three points and three goals, the joy that swept across Zambia was close to that felt when the Africa Cup was won eight months or so ago.
This is a very important outcome for Zambia’s chances of getting past this qualification stage as Group D winners.  It is now all in Zambia’s hands again having surrendered the initiative to Ghana.
Here is why: Zambia tops the group with six (maximum) points from two matches and up next are Lesotho away first and then at home.  Winning these two matches, while Ghana and Sudan sort each other out, would give Zambia even more breathing room.
Then Sudan will come calling, by which time Zambia could, should or must have 12 points (very possible).  A home win over Sudan would bring the points tally to 15 with only Ghana away to contend with.
Zambia should not expect any favours from Sudan but should the Sudanese get even one point off Ghana in their two matches, the Chipolopolo’s trip to Accra would be a formality.
Zambia winning three games on the trot is not only an ideal scenario, it is a realistic one too.  But it is one that can only come about because of concerted efforts both on and especially on the pitch.
There are only five months before Zambia travels to Lesotho.  What happens between now and then is of utmost importance.  Nothing should ever be taken for granted because no one will be pardoned should Zambia mess up this opportunity.
And now for the bad/sad news:   Rainford Kalaba is injured and could miss the decisive Africa Cup qualifier against Uganda in Kampala.  Does this adversely affect the team?  It certainly does.  Rainford is generally the thinker of the midfield and without him it is a genuine worry about what alternatives and solutions Renard could have.
I pray Renard will not rush the under-20 lads Shadreck and Mukuka called to camp for such a crucial game.  Nothing against the lads, but you need a combination of skill and experience to sort out the Cranes before a packed and intimidating Namboole Stadium in Kampala.
Should Kalaba fail to make it Renard has depth in players like William Njobvu and Chisamba Lungu as well as Francis Kasonde and Thomas Nyirenda to fill the void.  It would have been good too if Joseph Sitali was an alternative.
Sad that Jacob Mulenga is unavailable for the match due to the passing on of his father.  Condolences and God’s comfort, Jacob.
Finally the ugly news:  Keagan Mumba has been fired as under-20 coach for going against etiquette and speaking his mind out in public over his disagreement over being replaced by Renard for the Africa Cup qualifier against Mali.  Zambia lost 3-0 and went out 5-2 on aggregate.
One would understand Keagan frustration but even for one known for speaking his mind, he surely could have found a better way of stating his point with just as much punch.
If he was dissatisfied with his status when Renard ostensibly took charge, Keagan should have opted out before the team left for Mali.  By not doing so and in fact even stating that all was well in camp, what is now on record is that Zambia under-20 lost with him as coach and Renard was just helping out.
He, however, has brought out a serious point over roles of a coach and one brought in to help.  Who is in charge?  If Renard was an advisor, as we are meant to believe, he should have provided the counsel and it was up to Keagan to take it or leave it.
Keagan should have had the final say on the line-up, captain and all other decisions for which he would have been held accountable.  If the responsibility shifted, it should have been made clear to all the parties concerned.  If it was explained, than Keagan has no reason to complain, loudly or behind the scenes.
In as much as we would not want to play a blame game, someone must be held accountable for such an embarrassing loss.
nmbewe@daily-mail.co.zm or nebatmbewe@yahoo.com

source dailymail

[related_post themes="text" id="243"]