The highs and lows of Kamanga’s presidency

ANDREW Kamanga’s presidency at Football House comes to an end today.

He was duly elected on March 19, 2016 at Moba Hotel in Ndola.

However, his first term in office has experienced a mixed bag of results.

Kamanga has not only had a torrid time with the senior national team but also faced a lot of people fighting him directly and indirectly.

The last two months at the helm of FAZ might just be one of his worst experiences of his four-year tenure.

It is no secret now that there is bad blood between him and sports minister Emmanuel Mulenga who seems to have made it his business to be the official opposition to the Kamanga presidency.

With Kamanga’s name on the ballot for a second term at Football House, Mulenga has singlehandedly stalled the recruitment of Milutic Sredojevic as national team coach, whose contract papers are accumulating dust on his table despite the Attorney General giving a go-ahead.

Mulenga is not only one who has been FAZ’s stumbling block. Banned and suspended football administrators have also played their role in frustrating Kamanga.

As it stands, FAZ elections were halted after the association received an injunction on Monday from the Ndola High Court restraining it from holding its ongoing provincial and national elections.

However, FIFA is keeping its eyes open on the situation.

Not bringing former FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya in the picture would not be doing justice to the situation, but his quest for another stint at FAZ has brought more confusion among football stakeholders.

Bwalya failed the integrity test questionaire – among other requirements – needed to stand for FAZ president and this has seen him going to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which has indicated that it can only look into the matter in May this year.

Away from the fighting in football, Kamanga has had his share of success and failure during his four years.

After having ascended to power in 2016 through a bitterly contested election that Kamanga was touted as a no-hoper, he got down to work with the Under-20 project immediately catching his attention.

In December 2016, the Zambia Under-20 squad lifted the COSAFA crown in South Africa. It was not only the victory that captured the attention of the region but also the convincing manner in which the team won.

It was to be the launch-pad of the ‘Bola-Na-Lesa boys’ under the guidance of Beston Chambeshi. The COSAFA birthed emerging stars like Fashion Sakala, Patson Daka, Enock Mwepu, Edward Chilufya, Boyd Musonda and Mangani Banda, among others.

The team marched on with their dream run with an Africa Cup of Nations victory on home soil two months later. It was to be Zambia’s first trophy at Under-20 level on the African continent. The team was not done, breaking new grounds and reached a historic quarterfinal finish at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea later that year.

With the senior team, however, Kamanga has not been so lucky. The Chipolopolo have twice fallen short of Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

It has been a troubled experience for Kamanga, with the first attempt in 2017 coming in the middle of the qualification race, having inherited the team from the previous regime.
The start of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations campaign has not been kinder with two back-to-back losses.

While the senior men’s team has been Kamanga’s Achilles heel, he has been hugely successful with the women’s team which has made history by qualifying to the 2020 Olympic Games.

The women’s game has experienced something of a revolutionary march, with Zambia coming second at the 2019 COSAFA Women championship and a dream run to the Tokyo Olympics.

Off the pitch, Kamanga has scored tremendous successes with the FIFA aligned constitution that hitherto had been resisted by FAZ finally coming to fruition. In 2017, FAZ under the close watch of FIFA adopted a new constitution that presents some of the most progressive ideas.

Chief among these ideas is the equal representation on the national executive committee by all the provinces. Each province will elect one person who will sit on the committee that will now have 13 members from the previous nine. The provincial assemblies will directly elect their members who will sit on the national executive committee while the national election will only elect the president, vice and a woman candidate.

Kamanga has scored even higher in the area of transparency where he has earned the name ‘Mr Integrity’, with routine announcements of gate takings after every international match.
Ticketing has also been left in the hands of Computicket. FAZ officials can no longer thrive on moving with booklets of complimentary tickets that they peddled on the black market. It is a feat that has not won Kamanga many friends.

The Kamanga administration has also been development-strong, having pioneered an annual kit distribution exercise to lower division clubs. Members have been receiving kit and footballs from FAZ every year since 2017 arising from an annual general meeting resolution.

What many may not know is that the kit is purchased using FIFA funds under the annual FIFA/FAZ agreed objectives. These funds were always available previously but were never shared with the members. The fact that FIFA has consecutively renewed this support speaks to the transparency with which the exercise has been conducted.

The junior women teams have equally been on a surge with their 2019 exploits in the region setting the tempo for the 2020 FIFA World Cup campaigns. The Under-20 girls were COSAFA runners-up while the Under-17 emerged third. In 2020 both teams are looking to give World Cup qualification a shot. The women’s game is firmly on the go and is turning out to be Kamanga’s signature achievement.

Kamanga has equally been successful with junior teams having recruited a youthful Technical Director in Lyson Zulu. The UK-trained Zulu has taken a hands-on approach to junior teams and set up a strong grassroots structure that has so far seen the Under-17 boys team reap the second COSAFA gold medal.

Zambia lifted its first ever Under-17 COSAFA in 2017 in Mauritius and has added two more gold medals under Kamanga’s tenure. The junior teams’ success also manifested itself in the Under-20 winning the COSAFA championship in 2019 on home soil.

The COSAFA success was also scored at senior level with the Chipolopolo lifting it after having appeared in three consecutive finals.

Zambia has also become a permanent participant at the CHAN having qualified for the 2018 finals in Morocco where they exited at the quarterfinal stage. The Chipolopolo have also qualified for the 2020 CHAN to be hosted by Cameroon in April.

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