(By Darious Kapembwa in Khartoum, Sudan)
A RARE kind gesture by officials of Sudanese Division One side Kober FC saved Nkana’s training blues when they suspended their team’s training to allow the Zambians use their pitch after their hosts Al Hilal only availed them an artificial turf which they rejected.
Nkana arrived in Sudan on Thursday afternoon and coach Beston Chambeshi decided that the team would have a recovery session at 18:00 hours. But training delayed as officials learnt that the only pitch the hosts provided had synthetic grass which is the opposite of the match venue for Sunday’s crucial match.
The advance party of FAZ delegation leader Elijah Chileshe, club chief executive officer Charles Chakatazya, committee members Brian Musonda and Boniface Siame then moved quickly to secure a venue and surprisingly, Kober, owned by Sudanese Republican President Umar Al Bashir which was training at their home ground Shagir Stadium, ‘surrendered’ the venue to Nkana.
“This is the essence of football, it is to unify us. You have come to our country, you are our guests. You have come to compete, but that doesn’t matter. What matters to us is that you must not suffer. You are welcome to our country and we wish you all the best. You are welcome to use our pitch,” said Dr Mohammed Abdel Ahmit who is in charge of the team in a short interview.
“… even the President (Bashir) will be happy that you are happy.”
Nkana players loosened up for about 30 minutes under floodlights and left with the officials agreeing to a training programme at a minimal fee at the same venue for the rest of their stay in Khartoum.
However, coach Chambeshi demanded a change of venue yesterday and the team trained from the serene ground inside the school for security forces which has synthetic grass.
“We would like to thank his Excellency the President Al Bashir and his team for that gesture when we arrived and needed to stretch. And today we changed, we trained here. It’s artificial but not the old artificial. This is for the training school so it’s almost like natural turf, we can’t complain,” said Nkana CEO Charles Chakatazya.
Nkana take on Hilal tomorrow evening bidding to qualify to the quarter finals if they win but can also qualify with any result provided Zesco United don’t lose to Asante Kotoko in Ndola./MC/LM