31 January 2013

Zambia: Katongo Quits?

AS Zambia crashed out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Tuesday, skipper Christopher Katongo has reportedly relinquished the Chipolopolo captaincy and also retired from national duty.

Katongo is said to have reacted badly to coach Herve Renard's decision to substitute him during the AFCON Group C match against Nigeria.

Sources within the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) and the Chipolopolo camp, who sought anonymity, said Katongo told his teammates that he had quit playing for the 2012 AFCON winners and was no longer the team captain.

Katongo was also an unused substitute during the match against Nigeria and is said to have been annoyed by Renard's decision not to use him.

The 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year refused to give an interview to the journalists.

After the match against Burkina Faso at Mbombela Stadium when asked for an interview by journalists in the mixed zone, Katongo, before jumping on the team bus, snapped: "I was not the captain today, you can ask Mweene (Kennedy) for he was the captain."

However, some players said that they were disappointed with Katongo's behaviour because he could have simply responded to journalists' questions unlike wanting to put blame on Mweene, who is Chipolopolo vice captain.

"He told us that he is retired, that he is no longer the team captain. We were shocked by his behaviour because we have a strong squad of good players capable of bringing more glory to the country but such behaviour could break us," one player said.

A FAZ executive committee member also confirmed that Katongo told them that he was no longer captain of the team.

The FAZ official said it was unfortunate that a player of his calibre could act like that instead of showing his leadership skills.

But Renard during a Press conference after the game defended Katongo, saying he was one of the most committed and dedicated players he had in the national team.

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