22 January 2013

Zambia: Chipolopolo Depress Fans

STRIKER Collins Mbesuma may have lived up to his new name of 'King David', which he said was due to him re-gaining his goal scoring prowess, but his goal against a 10-man Ethiopia was not enough to inspire soccer fans across the country were left stunned by the result.

The fans who earlier in the day were clad in national team colours and blowing vuvuzela's on top of painting their faces and cars in the famous green-black-red colours, left their watching venues in total disbelief.

From Kitwe, IGNATIUS MAZEKO reports that a sombre mood characterised Kitwe as fans in the central business district left the various joints they witnessed the game from. Some fans blamed the draw on some named senior players whom they said were not up to the task and that they have outlived their usefulness.

The colourful atmosphere that painted town centre in national colours, predominantly green the whole day, was diluted as fans left town wearing sad faces.

"This is the game we should have easily won. Drawing with a small team like Ethiopia is unacceptable. Mind you they had a red card in the first half. We have now put ourselves in a very awkward position," said Mubanga Mwape.

Kelvin Mwila said coach Herve Renard has to take risks in the games against Nigeria on Friday and Burkina Faso next week on Tuesday or forget about a quarter-final berth.

"We didn't play like African champions. Something must be done. If we fail to beat Ethiopia then I don't know about tough teams like Nigeria and Burkina Faso," said Shadreck Miti

In Lusaka, SHAMAOMA MUSONDA reports that most places visited were quiet as fans deserted the many watching venues as soon as the final whistle was blown with many contemplating what was next for the team following the result.

Fans lamented about the team wasted chances coupled by what they termed poor performance by the African Champions in a game that they would have gotten maximum points.

"We could have won this game had we made most of our chances, Ethiopia played most of the game with a man down but we failed to make our numbers count. There is still hope as we take on Nigeria and Burkina Faso," said a Chilenje fan Peter Tembo.

From Chipata JULIUS PHIRI reports that a sombre mood greeted the town as fans, who were expectant following Mbesuma's goal that came after the sending off the Ethiopian keeper Jemal Tassew, but went quiet after the final whistle with only a few still managing to blow their vuvuzela's.

The atmosphere was equally the same in Kabwe where SYLVIA MWEETWA reports that fans were left disappointed with the draw as the hype that characterised the build up to the game vanished soon after Ethiopia equalised.

In the Tourist Capital, Livingstone, BRIAN HATYOKA wrote that euphoria that engulfed the town centre was nowhere to be seen soon after the final whistle as fans walked to their respective home in silence.

Meanwhile, FELIX MALUNGA writes that Mbesuma on Sunday, as a reflection of his transformation, stunned President Michael Sata when he introduced himself as 'King David', sending his Chipolopolo teammates into raptures.

The Republican President had gone to visit the Chipolopolo at their Protea Hotel base in Nelspruit to encourage the team ahead of their AFCON title defence in South Africa.

After addressing the players where he directed them to defend the AFCON title, President Sata was invited by the master of ceremonies, Erick Mwanza to meet the team.

And when it was Mbesuma's turn to introduce himself-said:

"Mr President, my name is King David." According to a statement from the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), the President paused upon hearing Mbesuma's introductory remarks and requested him to introduce himself again.

"Your name is what? You're King David?" President Sata asked. The Orlando Pirates burly striker responded in the affirmative: "Yes, I am King David Collins Mbesuma." His response delighted his teammates who also responded by cheering him.

Mbesuma said he was no longer identified as 'Ntofontofo' or 'Air Force One' by his fans but 'King David'.

He said the change of the nickname was a reflection of the transformation he went through which had now seen him regain his top goal-scoring touch.

During a pre-match Press conference on Sunday, Chipolopolo coach, Herve Renard described the South African Premier Soccer League goal record-holder as a resurrected Mbesuma.

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