PRESIDENT Michael Sata has said the Zambia national soccer team's momentous achievement has galvanised the country which has undergone great renewal of hope in the last few months.
The First Lady, Dr Christine Kaseba will today host a special luncheon at State House in honour of the triumphant Chipolopolo boys.
Mr Sata congratulated the Chipolopolo boys for winning the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Libreville, Gabon.
"You went with admirable humility, competed with heart, unity and patriotism and accounted for every drop of your sweat. The result of your hard work is the trophy which you have brought to your motherland for the first time.
"Indeed, you have demonstrated once again that nothing beats unity and hope and it is my desire that you will continue with this spirit as you pursue even greater success," Mr Sata said.
Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations George Chellah conveyed Mr Sata's congratulatory message in a Press statement yesterday.
Mr Sata said the Government attached great importance to the development of football and was greatly encouraged by the splendid performance of the national team.
"That is precisely why I sent our beloved icon and founding president Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, my predecessor Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda and His Honour the Vice-President Dr Guy Scott and Cabinet ministers. This gesture was meant to demonstrate to you and the entire nation how much importance we attach to football and how this sport unifies our country," the President said.
Mr Sata said with the 2014 World Cup qualifiers kicking off in June this year, it was imperative for the team to continue working hard to record yet another milestone at a higher level.
"You have really honoured your departed colleagues who perished during the course of national duty off the coast of Gabon. To the coaches, team management, Football Association of Zambia executive and everybody involved, I say it is a job well done," he said.
The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has joined other organisations and individuals in congratulating the Zambia national soccer team for scooping the 2012 AFCON trophy.
ZCTU secretary general Roy Mwaba has also appealed to the Government to consider a social security scheme for the players.
Mr Mwaba said in a statement yesterday that the congress wished to pay tribute to the team for making history for winning the cup for the first time.
Mr Mwaba advised the Government to seriously consider introducing a social scheme for players as that would enable them "fall back" once they retired from football.
"Playing football is a career and the future of players needs to be safeguarded to ensure they do not turn into destitutes," Mwaba said.