Zambia: 'Zambia Capable of Defending Afcon'

CONFEDERATION of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) committee member Timothy Shongwe says Zambia has the quality to successfully defend the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title which starts in South Africa next month.

Shongwe said in Lusaka during a graduation ceremony for 39 Zambian coaches trained to tackle grassroots football, that the Chipolopolo had so much depth and quality besides determination to retain the continental crown.

He said Zambia defied odds at the last AFCON final earlier this year when the Herve Renard side prevailed over countries regarded as powerhouses in Africa.

He noted that the victory resulted from the quality of players in the team.

"We have seen Zambian football grow, the quality of players coming out of Zambia is good and the enthusiasm of the fans is immeasurable. You won't find such combination everywhere and that is a great plus for the team.

"We at COSAFA are confident that Zambia will defend the Africa Cup and qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals. We also believe in Zambia so much that it can even be the first African team to break the Africa jinx at the World Cup," he said.

Shongwe also hailed Zambia's organisation of the on-going 2012 Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone Six Youth Games saying there were few countries in the region that could organise games so well and put up quality infrastructure as Zambia had done.

He also praised the passion of fans, highlighting the enthusiasm in women's football, adding that no country in Africa was able to fill up a stadium where women teams were playing as was the case in Zambia.

Shongwe said such passion was great for a country with a vision of winning things and hailed the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) for working at equipping its coaches across the country with coaching skills that should help produce technically strong young players.

And FAZ vice-president Boniface Mwamelo thanked world football governing body FIFA for helping Zambia train more coaches.

He said this was the development the association was interested in and would continue to train coaches.

Mwamelo said FAZ was interested in building capacity in the coaches around the country especially that football was changing at a fast rate.

The two-week course was conducted by FIFA instructor Fran Hiltonsmith, who praised former coach Enala Simbeye for her commitment to football.

Hiltonsmith said the national women's team trainer would soon join a rare league of three African women FIFA instructors.

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