Zambia national soccer team was supposed to travel Tuesday on a chartered flight to fulfil the AFCON fixture in Praia but due to the flight delay the team arrived to its destination on actual day of the game Wednesday 14:00 hours before kickoff of the game.
The Chipolopolo lost to the Blue Sharks 2-1, the result which has not pleased a section of the country’s soccer fraternity and media.
Critics attributed the team’s loss to the way travel arrangements were handled before the team left for encounter.
But the government through the sports ministry exonerated itself from the blame in a statement published Friday.
The ministry instead accused MTHA Aviation (Pvt) Ltd the company that provided the chartered flight for delaying the team’s travel to Cape Verde.
The ministry said it had done its part like to ensure that the team fulfils its national duties without any hitches.
“It should be noted that Government and other stakeholders worked tirelessly to ensure the safe and timely passage of the team to fulfil their national duty,” read the statement from the Sports Ministry.
The statement said the ministry had among others paid the service provider upfront 72 hours before scheduled departure time of the team.
It also said it had entertained other demands the service provider had made like asking for clearance of airspace of the countries the plane was due to pass through.
The statement disclosed that previously it had been footing the bills of the team’s chartered flights with the support of the corporate community especially from mining sector but during this time no company from the private sector was involved.
“But unfortunately, this time around no company came on board and therefore Government had to foot the bills,” said the statement.
“It must be made clear that Government did all it could to ensure the team flew out in good time and this undue criticism is unfair and unfortunate,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Zambia national soccer Coach, Honour Janza has refused to be weighed into the debate that the team’s travel arrangements were a contributing factor to its on pitch lacklustre performance.
“I don’t want to blame anything on the movements. There are just some technical issues where we failed in the match,” Janza said in a newspaper interview.
He described the loss in Cape Verde as shocking saying his side dominated possession and was supposed to collect the maximum points.
But he was of the view that his players need to inject more passion into their game by maintaining high levels of concentration throughout the entire ninety minutes of the game.
“Our players need hundred per cent concentration throughout the ninety minutes. Every player must be disciplined tactically and technically,” he said.
He was nonetheless relieved that his side is still in the race following a goalless stalemate between Mozambique and Niger the result which has opened up the group to the bottom three teams.
But he was quick to add that Zambia need to fight its own battle to get its qualification slot to Morocco 2015 AFCON finals.
“This is a wake-up call for us because we cannot rely on results from other matches to remain in contention; no one is going to make us qualify but ourselves,” he declared.