THE Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has called for fans not to get stressed over results of the Chipolopolo friendly matches as the purpose was to look at the progress in training and not to grind a result from it.
FAZ spokesperson Erick Mwanza said this yesterday in view of Zambia's 2-0 loss to Angola which came just 14 days before the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicks-off with fans expecting the Chipolopolo to defend the crown.
"We know that our fans want to win all the time. We understand our great soccer heritage and the passion, but some games are meant to give the players a systematic run which helps build towards the championship.
We should not stress ourselves so much about training matches and their outcomes.
We're preparing well and we will be ready," Mwanza said.
Zambia opens its title defence campaign against Ethiopia on February 21 before other Group C fixtures against Nigeria and Burkina Faso in Nelspruit and should Chipolopolo win Group C, they remain at Mbombela for the last eight and semi-finals.
And Zambia Soccer Fans Association (ZSFA) has expressed concern at the Chipolopolo defeats and failure to score in the last two friendly matches played ahead of the 2013 AFCON finals.
ZSFA chairperson Peter Makembo said while Coach Herve Renard was still trying out his players before coming up with a final team for the AFCON finals, the two defeats suffered should act as eye openers.
Makembo said the team needed to up their game as defeats to the likes of Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Angola were not acceptable Zambia being African Champions and every team out there wants to beat them.
He, however, assured the squad of maximum support during the duration of the AFCON finals and remained confident that Chipolopolo will come back with the trophy come February 11.
"The results are not encouraging, but we should not read much into them as the coaches are still trying out various tactics before coming up with what would be their strong squad.
Again much as these games are practice matches, there is need for the players to work hard and these defeats should act as eye openers ahead of the AFCON finals," he said.
Makembo said there was need for Zambia to be careful with teams like Ethiopia, who beat and eliminated Sudan that beat the Chipolopolo 2-0 in a 2014 World Cup qualifier in Khartoum.
Meanwhile, the ZSFA has partnered with a South African based company Double 'O' Zero hospitality based in Johannesburg which has offered to cater for the fans at a reduced fee unlike what was being offered in Nelspruit.
Makembo said his association moved its AFCON base from Nelspruit to Johannesburg with Makembo, saying the new base was much cheaper and easier to connect to Mbombela Stadium which is about 300kilometre away.
He said the full package fans wanting to travel should pay was KR 2,690 (K2,690,000), while those wishing to go for the group stages would be required to pay KR 2,420 (K2, 420,000) and KR 2, 520 (K 2, 510, 000) for those wanting to watch the quarter and semi-final matches.
"This includes transportation from Lusaka to Johannesburg-Nelspruit and back to Lusaka.This packages also includes tours when Zambia is not playing, first aid services, security and accommodation and insurance," he said.