1 February 2013

Zambia: Focus On World Cup, Kalu Tells Squad

FOOTBALL Association of Zambia (FAZ) president, Kalusha Bwalya has urged the Chipolopolo to quickly get over the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) disappointment and focus on the forthcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifiers in March.

Kalusha believed that Zambia had a formidable and established team despite failing to progress to the 2013 AFCON quarter-finals in South Africa.

He said the focus for the team would be to regroup and channel its energy towards securing qualification for the first-ever World Cup finals appearance in Brazil.

The Chipolopolo, who lead Group C of the World Cup qualifying series on six points, will face Lesotho in Maseru on March 23 before hosting the Sothos at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on June 8 for the return leg.

Zambia, the 2012 AFCON winners, will also host Sudan on June 15 before wrapping up the penultimate round with an away tie in Ghana on September 7.

On Zambia's group stage exit from the AFCON, Kalusha said he was sad and disappointed.

He said the Chipolopolo should have themselves to blame for the failure because there was no team better than theirs in Group C.

"What can I say? I am sad and disappointed. We all had great expectations for this AFCON.

"Unfortunately, we have to leave at this stage. We only have ourselves to blame. I didn't see one team that was superior to us. Zambia really didn't hit top gear," Kalusha told fazfootball.com.

He said there was need to be realistic because Zambia created a few clear-cut scoring chances which were also not turned into goals.

Kalusha said by failing to score, the Chipolopolo complicated their progression to the last eight and regretted that the team had to exit the tournament in such a way.

The FAZ chief also slammed the state of the pitch at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit which he said contributed to the team's poor performance.

"The playing pitch didn't help matters either. By comparison, in 2012 in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, we could reach the opponents' area one time and it was a goal!" he said.

And Zambia's High Commissioner to South Africa, Muyeba Chikonde has appealed to Zambians to maintain their support for the Chipolopolo despite being knocked out in the first round at the 2013 AFCON.

In his message of solidarity to the team released by the mission's First Secretary for Press, Patson Chilemba, Chikonde said just as the nation was behind the Chipolopolo when they won the 2012 AFCON, the fans should be with the squad even after the misfortune in South Africa.

He urged Zambians to put aside their disappointment and support the Chipolopolo in their quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals.

Chikonde said the mission was happy with Government's support to the Chipolopolo as evidenced by the visits of President Michael Sata and Vice-President Guy Scott to the team, apart from the financial commitments made to the squad by Sports Minister, Chishimba Kambwili.

Meanwhile, FAZ Division Three side, Zamstars chairperson, Phesto Musonda has appealed to the fans not to demonise the team, saying the Chipolopolo were under a lot of psychological pressure.

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