REPUBLICAN Vice-President Guy Scott has urged the Zambia soccer team to ensure they qualify for the 2014 Brazil World Cup finals without fail.
Speaking at the MTN-Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) awards gala at Government Complex in Lusaka on Wednesday evening, Scott, who pledged Government's support to the team, said it was sad that despite being African champions and quite dominant on the continent, Zambia had never been to the World Cup finals.
He said it was now time for Zambia to make it to the World Cup in Brazil.
He Zambia could not win the Africa Cup earlier this year for the first time and against all odds, and fail to make it to the World Cup.
"If you could win the Africa Cup, that means you are the best and I do not see why you cannot go to the World Cup.
"It's sad that we are African champions and we have never been to the World Cup, so this time you must qualify to the World Cup," he said.
Scott commended the team for making Zambia proud by winning the Africa Cup but that the Chipolopolo should follow that up with a World Cup slot.
Zambia leads the group race to the World Cup with six points, leaving 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana in second place with three points, and will play the next two games against Lesotho before hosting Sudan and end the qualifiers with a game away to Ghana.
He jokingly said he would be in Brazil to watch the World Cup and that it would make sense if Zambia also made it there.
The Vice-President called on the corporate world to join the Government in sponsoring sport in the country and help take it to another level.
He said companies like MTN Zambia had invested a lot in football and that others should join in and sponsor sport in general.
Speaking at the same occasion, FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya said the sky was not the limit for Zambian football as it would continue to get to higher heights and attain near impossible feats.
Kalusha said Zambian football was now playing the leadership role and was a model of what a successful league and federation should be, adding that the rest of Africa was keenly watching FAZ's approach to all components of the game.
He said the Zambian football league was a marvel to watch and was a showpiece for the rest of the continent with stiff competition, thrilling matches, keenly contested derbies and most of all, all stadia were filled to capacity by enthusiastic fans who had set aside the attraction to foreign, mostly European, leagues.
"As we continue on these wonderful paths of development, success and achievement, we would like to reiterate our call to all football stakeholders to continue supporting the game.
"The sky is not even the limit because we can soar even higher and touch the stars," he said.
Kalusha said that the crowning of Zambia as the "kings of African football" had a significant impact on local football as seen in the just-ended 2012 Premier League season, which was decided on the final day.
Power Dynamos' Mukuka Mulenga was crowned the 2012 Footballer-of the-Year and won himself a cool K25 million, while Nkana striker, Reynolds Kampamba was voted the Young Player-of-the-Year and capped it with the Top Scorer-of the-Year to walk away K45 million richer.
Zanaco coach, Keegan Mumba was chosen Coach-of-the-Year and received K25 million, while Power's Emmanuel Chimpinde was voted the Most Disciplined Player-of the-Year and got K10 million.