16 January 2013

Zambia: Sunzu Should Have Waited - Renard

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
After a number of thwarted chances at goal, Ethiopian striker Saladin Said supplied the ball which enabled Adane Girma to score Ethiopia's first goal at the Cup of Nations in 30 years.

CHIPOLOPOLO coach Herve Renard has said defender Stoppila Sunzu has been rushed to settle for English Premier League relegation fighting side Reading because money has proved to be more important in African soccer than planning a player's career.

Sunzu arrived in the Royal County of Berkshire in England on Monday for a four-day training stay with Reading, who are expected to seal a deal with the 23-year-old towering defender by Friday.

Renard said in an interview from Nelspruit, South Africa yesterday that a bigger team than Reading would have signed on Sunzu if he had waited for the end of the Orange 2013 Africa Cup of Nations that kicks off in South Africa on Saturday.

"If he was my son, I would have told him to play a very good Africa Cup and he would have gone to a better team because in my opinion he can play for a big team. But my opinion is not important. In Africa, money is more important than to plan for a players' career," he said.

When first asked to comment on Sunzu's move to 'The Royals', Renard responded with a three word answer, "simply the best."

"When I say 'simply the best', it means there is a reason about my thought on Sunzu," said the Frenchman, who converted Sunzu from a defensive midfielder to a reputable central defender when he first came to Zambia after the 2008 Africa Cup.

But Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya told Reuters that "The Zambia national team will always be there but opportunities like this do not come around often in a player's career so we were happy to let him go,"

"We have agreed with Reading, his club TP Mazembe and ourselves that he takes up this chance. Reading were quite insistent on seeing him so it is a good sign. "Ultimately it is advantageous to our team to have players from clubs at the highest level."

Reading reaffirmed in a statement published on the team's website yesterday what DR Congo side TP Mazembe had said on Sunday that Sunzu would spend four days training with The Royals.

"Central defender Sunzu, 23, has been given permission by Zambia and his club TP Mazembe to temporarily leave his country's Africa Cup of Nations squad, in order to train with the Royals and be assessed by our coaching staff," said Reading.

The Brian McDermott-coached Reading said Sunzu would rejoin Chipolopolo in Nelspruit later this week ahead of the African champions' Orange Africa Cup Group C opening match against Ethiopia set for Monday at Mbombela Stadium.

Sunzu attended trials at Reading after featuring for Zambia's Under-20 squad at the 2007 FIFA World Youth Cup that was held in Canada but he was not signed on because he could not obtain a work permit.

McDermott told BBC Radio Berkshire and Reading Players that he is happy with the business he has done so far in this winter transfer window, and says more deals could be possible if the right players came up.

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