THE Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has urged Zambia's continental football representatives Zanaco and Power Dynamos to aim at reaching the group stages of the CAF competitions and avoid early exists.
FAZ spokesperson Erick Mwanza said in Lusaka that there was need for Zambian champions Zanaco and runners up Power to strengthen their teams to avoid early and embarrassing exits from Africa's prime club football showpiece.
Mwanza said that it was disheartening to see the Zambian clubs, that have done well in producing players who have conquered Africa at national team level, failing to make an impact at club on the continent.
"And especially now that we are African champions, expectation are very high from both within the country and outside. So as FAZ, we have engaged the clubs on the need to be ready for the competitions coming their way. We want both clubs in the group stages," he said.
Only Zesco United has made the group stages of the Confederations Cup among Zambian teams to date.
Mwanza said Zanaco need to be wary of the fact that they would have to meet former African champions TP Mazembe on the way to the group stages and should make sure that they have a strong squad to fight and win matches.
And if Zanaco manages to avoid the giant Democratic Republic of Congo side on their way, they will come across South African giants in Orlando Pirates, a club where Collins Mbesuma plays for.
He said a club like TP Mazembe, which reached the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League this year, might release defence kingpin Stopilla Sunzu but have had to strengthen their squad through acquisition of players from in and outside Congo.
Mwanza said TP Mazembe have acquired the services of four players from 2012 CAF Champions league surprise package Berekem Chelsea of Ghana besides Jonas Sakuwaha, the Zambian forward from El Merreikh in Sudan.
Asked if the reason for early exists do not lie in the CAF Champions League starting when the Zambian league is no recess, Mwanza said that cannot be the reason as the Congolese League where TP Mazembe comes from runs the same way as the Zambian league.
"Expectations are quite high from the fans across Africa. Even Zimbabwe does always get Dynamos in the Group Stages of these competitions and we want to get to that level, so as FAZ we would want to see our teams get there and that means they have to strengthen their squads," he said.