FOOTBALL Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya has said the Under-17 soccer team early elimination from the Orange 2013 Africa Junior Championship qualifying series is a disappointment to the country.
Kalusha said in an interview at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe on Saturday after watching Zambia lose 0-1 to South Africa in the second round return match that the junior Chipolopolo, who crushed out 2-1 on aggregate, played badly.
He said the Under-17 players and their Under-20 counterparts, who were eliminated by Mali at an identical stage of the Orange 2013 Africa Youth Championship qualifiers on October 5, have demonstrated lack of ambition.
"First of all, it has to do with the ambition of the players themselves, in my opinion. The ambition of the players that is most important but if the players are not ambitious to play at this level then we as an executive there is nothing much we can do.
They have to know that you have to play football when you are playing in Zambia, in Africa and in competitions. If you see that there is no heart and will, there is nothing we can do.
The ambition of any team is to progress. If you look at our main national team today, we have four or five players who were at the 2007 Under- 20 FIFA World Cup in Canada and they are doing well.
The plan is to do the same with our current crop of young players," he said.
Kalusha said the team had put itself in a fantastic position following a 1-1draw in South Africa, and that everyone expected them to win at home but regretted failure by the boys to show ambition.
South Africa coach Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba said Zambia lost because they played to defend the 1-1 forced in Johannesburg on October 13 but cautioned the local soccer fraternity to understand that the Under-17s were raw.
Mashaba thanked his players for giving no chance to Zambia who woke up after midfielder Siyanda Ngcobo's 53rd minute and later in the match when South Africa resorted to safeguarding their lead by defending.
His Zambia counterpart Osward Mutapa jr said the junior Chipolopolo conceded an easy goal which his charges could have thwarted like they did to an array of corners and other set pieces the visitors created.
Mutapa said the shift of attention by the fans, who started supporting South Africa after the goal, also made it difficult for his players to recover because they became affected psychologically.