Zambia vs Ghana: Lessons Learnt.

imageBy Chimuka Moono Hanyama

After a shock, one in life begins to internalize the problem, and start making inferences for future purposes. It’s true that loosing is painful. So painful that one can do outrageous and silly things. Blame is one of them. Others are excuses and resentment. As a country, and as soccer lovers, we may have faced all or one of these aftermath effects of loosing to Ghana in a crucial last group encounter. It’s normal.

Well, since we can’t continue whining about the loss, lets look at the lesson we can pick from the experience.

It’s clear that soccer is a serious crowd puller competition. This is because it shows skill which players learn by gelling together while performing different positions in a match. The skill of the players is reached at after time of practicing or training, which also enhance and perfect their various roles. In the said match, Zambian players showed some gaps in coordination and efficiency, save for a few who performed excellently. The lesson learnt here is that players, even though they are called professionals, should be given longer time to train together so that they can effectively understand each other. Playing soccer has much to do with how your next mate handles the ball. If he looses it easily, then such a player will need more time to practice to up the skill of keeping the ball without loosing it to the opponent.

A one week camp in which some players merely arrived towards the end was not enough. Although we understand that these players have commitments to fulfill at their various clubs, it should be an obligation that they should put their country first. This is a mark of patriotism. Honestly, shying away from performing a national duty is a sign of being a bad citizen! So modalities should be put in place so that the camping period is longer than a week or two. We should also state here that the choice of a place for camping is paramount. If the players are going to have their match in Morocco, it’s better the camp is held within another country nearer and with similar conditions to Morocco. This gives the players time to adapt to the atmospheric condition of the area, and understand the general social and behavioral arrangement of the place and its people.

The choice of a camp in South Africa was very wrong because Ghana and South Africa have different climatic, and social conditions altogether! Whoever planned this camp must have had overslept!

Another lesson that we can learn is that the coaching bench should realize from time to time that talent and energy wanes with time. A player performs well at a given time, but that depends on a number of factors; physical stature, his mates, psychological atmosphere, and of course experience, among others. From the Ghana game, we saw that some players failed to tick for various reasons. Some of them showed some level of nervousness while others exhibited some lack of perfect physic! From time to time, new players should be groomed to take up spaces left by those whose energy is diminishing.

The tendency to play names still seem to take centre stage even though there has been remarkable improvement. Rainford Kalaba for example takes poor free kicks, but he continues to take them every time there is one! The coaching staff need to allow other players to have a try without allowing dominance. So in a nutshell, some players should be thanked for their contribution to the national team and their workload should gradually be reduced for others to take up their roles. We are not saying they should be removed or be fire, but that energy in soccer is vital, and so when it begins to diminish, the coaching staff should be quick to see that and act.

The Ghana game showed us that whining and singing to the media about treatment, nature of the stadium, and others, only pays to the negative. Instead of emphasizing on the psychology of the players to concentrate on the positive, the FAZ officials prepared the nation and indeed the team for a loss in Ghana. In Chitonga there is a saying, “malweza atalikila kumuunda”, which means bad luck starts in the field. When while cultivating, a child is roughed up by an oxen, or someone chops off their toe, this shows more problems are yet to come!

Problems started at home, at the airport. The players boarded a plane without the FAZ officials knowing that where they were destined to land, the airport was small and could not accommodate that nature or size of the plane they chartered. Not only that, it was shocking to learn that the same airport at Baba Yara was actually undergoing renovations and so did not have enough lighting! The flight had to be cancelled. When the team went on thursday, they were behind schedule as they had to play on friday and this forced them to begin training on a car park concrete thereby attracting scores of onlookers! this was very unnecessary! But then, thats what one does when they have not prepared well. Who should have learnt all these things? Surely even though we were very suspicious of Ghana, is it not a common practice to get enough information about where you are going? Don’t we ask for directions or any other information when we are about to start off to a place we are not sure of? Was it true that Ghana hid this information until Zambian players were already in the plane? This was poor planning for FAZ. All excuses can’t sink into one’s head in this era of technology. Are we not globalized?

Waiting for the last minute miracle is very dangerous, as the miracle may just delay to come. This is the predicament our team found itself. All of a sudden, we were surprised that the team had taken the gospel approach to the games. Although we are not saying this was bad, it too showed that something was lacking in the team, and so God was required to intervene. The real problem was that small teams such as Lesotho were approached casually and so gave the Chipolopolo a stunning performance and left them with their mouths gaped! We know there is no such a thing as a small team in soccer, but in reality, Zambia had all chances to beat Lesotho. Surprisingly, even the standard of football they displayed both in Lesotho and in Ndola was poor! The reason is because FAZ, Coaching Staff and Players underrated Lesotho and thought it was going to be a walk over. FAZ had even the audacity to send the players to Lesotho on Road! When the Coach complained, he was branded with unpopular sentiments, that he was pompous, ungrateful and so on.

FAZ should learn a lesson from English Premier League. There, competition is from the start to the end. No loose points are left unchecked as the same can come to haunt you at the end! In 2011-2012 Season, Manchester United lost to Manchester City just by an inch. Actually, as the match ended, Manchester United players started waiting for the Man City game to also end when Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero scored the game winner in the 94th minute of the 5 minutes added. This caused the Manchester United players to break down as they had lost just on goal aggregate from Manchester City! In 2012-2013 Season, Alex Ferguson did not want the repeat to this and so he bought the necessary players, worked on the existing ones, and started with a bang. He won the title with about three games to the end of the League!

This is what FAZ need to do. Preparations should not have gaps. Every game they approach should be played like finals. The so called professionals should always be called in time or be forgotten. It does not make sense to let the professional players come when the balance is already tilted to the loss. Prayers should also be held when there is still enough time since the idea is to boost the morale of the players. The Football House should put their politics in favor of the games. Zambians are looking up to them for the good performance as they did when they were crowned Champions of Africa. They have a bigger role to play than do the prayers and the Coach! If the atmosphere is put which enhances good performance, our prayers will be answered, and our Coach, who should not be sacked, will surely perform as expected.

A damaged net cannot bring fish to the shore. If FAZ does not knit their net well, attention seeking cries like we witnessed in the Kumasi game will not end. That means damage to our ear drums!