Sport Minister Vincent Mwale described the junior Chipolopolo performance in Senegal where Zambia crashed out in group stages by losing all three games to Tunisia 2-1, South Africa 3-2 and Senegal 1-0 as heartbreaking.
Mwale said the nation had high expectations from the team because of the calibre of players it had in its ranks as all of them had experience and played on all age levels international of tournaments.
“We have players that have played at all levels under-17,under-20 and some of them at senior national team, so it is painful to see them fail to come out of the group on top and fail to qualify for Rio Olympics,” Mwale lamented.
He advised the technical committee to draw lessons from Senegal debacle and set their sights on doing well in Rwanda CHAN tournament.
Former Zambia FA committee member, Marcha Chilemena echoed sentiments of the sports minister but said the team need to play more friendly matches with strong opponents to keep it in shape for Rwanda tournament.
“We already know which teams Zambia is going to play against so we should play friendlies with teams that will give us competition before going to the tournament.
“We don’t want to fall in the same trap that the under-23 team fell in at the African Championship in Senegal. We need to prepare the CHAN team well and now,” said Chilemena.
Coach of the under-23 team, that was in Senegal, Fighton Simukonda told local media that the team dismal performance in West Africa play offs was due to laxity approach by team players.
“We lost all our matches because our players thought we had easy games. Most of the time we were marking late and giving space to our opponents. That is how we lost all the three games, “said Simukonda.
However, Simukonda is of the view that all is not dead and buried saying the players that went to Senegal have room to make improvement in aspects they are lacking.
“But it is not the end of the road. The players we have now are the future of Zambia national team,” he said.
But Zambia FA chief, Kalusha Bwalya observed that local players need to change their personal attitude and aim higher.
“We need players who have high hopes and aims for their careers. We need the right attitude from our players,” observed Bwalya.
Nathan Sinkala who is a member for Chipolopolo senior team but plies his trade at DR Congo giants advised his compatriots in CHAN team many of whom were in the team that went to Senegal to take their poor outing in West Africa as a wakeup call.
“The performance in Senegal is just a wake-up call for them to remain focussed and work extra hard. CHAN is coming soon and they need to redeem themselves.
“A good outing for them will be good for Chipolopolo because most of the players are coming from the local team,”Sinkala told the Post.
The Rwanda 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) which strictly involves players from domestic leagues will run from January 16 to February 7.