FORMER national team striker Zeddy Saileti says Chipolopolo coach Wedson Nyirenda deserves more time as national team coach because he has built a strong base in the short time he has been in charge.
And Saileti has urged local national team players to concentrate on playing regularly in the local league to improve their game than rushing to sign ‘lukewarm’ professional contracts.
Commenting on Zambia’s performance in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers where Chipolopolo finished second to Nigeria in group B, Saileti said Nyirenda had proved that he could deliver results if given time to mould the team.
“I think when he started these qualifiers, he was just starting to build a team. He did not have time but he managed to build a strong base that competed well in these qualifiers in a short time he assembled the team. Because qualifying for those big tournaments, you need to have a team that has been together for a long time,” Saileti said.
“So I think he needs time to complete what he has started. He has done very well looking at the combination of players he has put together. The only thing is that it is not up to us to decide, there are other people who decide who should coach the national team, but on my own, I think he has done well and he deserves time in that job.”
On the team’s performance, the former player who was part of the team in the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations against Nigeria in Tunis, said he had not seen Zambia perform very well against a bigger opponent in a long time and gave plaudits to the players and the coaches.
“The team did well despite not being together for a long time. We watched that game and it was sad that we lost after playing so well. We need to maintain that team, we have another four years to the next world cup qualifiers,” said Saileti, who is now Lumwana Radiants head coach. “I think during this period, we would have come up with a solid team. My advice to the powers that be is that we are on the right track, let’s maintain the team and fuse in those that are coming up in the league. We have not seen Zambia play like that in a long time. My advice to the local players is that now is the time to concentrate on playing regularly at their clubs. This is not time to relax, play regularly and improve your game, then professional careers will just come. Yes, every player dreams of playing professional football but if you rush into signing short term professional deals, sometimes it destroys a career.”
Nigeria has already qualified from group B after accumulating an unassailable 13 points going into the last round of games.