[By Darious Kapembwa and Bright Tembo]
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga has described the loss to Botswana as disappointing but is refusing to give up on the prospect of qualifying, with two matches remaining.
And team coach Milutin Micho Sredojević described the loss as unacceptable.
Chipolopolo lost 0-1 in Francistown on Monday, a result that further complicates Zambia’s qualification to the 2022 AfCON.
However, the team still has a slender chance after Zimbabwe managed to hold group leaders Algeria two-all, which leaves Zambia with no choice but to beat both Algeria and Zimbabwe in March to have a realistic chance of making it into the finals.
Speaking after the result, Kamanga said: “…certainly it was not a good result. We hope that we can pick up from this loss and see how we can move forward. Certainly, it’s very disappointing, it’s not what we expected as an executive. We’ll sit and carry out a postmortem, going into the next games in March against Algeria at home and away to Zimbabwe. Of course, we are bottom with three points. Botswana have got four, Zimbabwe at five but we still have two games to play. But we can’t give up at this stage.”
Kamanga said the team had enough time to prepare with a good number of friendly matches in the last two months.
Katanga, however, bemoaned injuries on key strikers Patson Daka and Evans Kangwa who could not make it into the team for both fixtures.
“…that (absence of key strikers) could have affected our strike force. But football is a game of 11 players. This is why at any given time you always have to look at the best combination. So, we’ll sit with the technical bench so that they give us their programme. And as an executive, we’ll pick it up from there in terms of giving them the preparations, motivation, we have never failed,” said Kamanga. “Even last week, whatever was committed to be given to the players as an executive, we did our part, the government did their part. So, even today, if the team had won, we could still have given them the US$5,000. So, from where we stand, we address the administrative side of the game and we expect the players to do their part on the pitch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result today, we just have to soldier on and fight on.”
Chipolopolo must now switch attention to start preparations for the African Nations championships (CHAN) to be held in Cameroon in January before qualifiers resume in March.
And Micho questioned the laxity among defenders who allowed an avoidable goal from Botswana.
“…we consider that goal surprising, between three or four defenders including the central defender inside the six yard box, it’s unaccepted mistake. That put us from the 6th minute till the 95th minute to dominate, to keep the high line to try and attack in all the aspects. It is not easy to play a very tactically and very disciplined team like Botswana is,” said Micho.
“It is a situation that they are not allowing you because they are always having 10 players behind the ball. And whenever they have the ball, they want to play in transition in counter attack; it was not easy to play but we made all the changes. We put all the attacking players in order to go out in attack, putting five attacking players, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.”