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KICK OFF: Sort out that defence

IT is really sad that Chipolopolo will not be at the AfCON again when the tournament begins in Cameroon later this year.

What is even more painful is that in the game that held everything, the game that held Chipolopolo’s destiny, the game that we needed to win at all costs, we lost it to carelessness by individual players at the back. Painfully, that was a weaker Algeria which when you look at them did not believe they came to win until our generous defence decided to gift them two precious goals in 20 minutes of shambolic display.

But it’s also fair to say starting with three at the back was a risk that backfired because all the three defenders seemed lost in that system. The positive thing was that Micho quickly responded with two defensive changes and the response was quite positive. There was some stability on the wing backs with the coming on of Lubambo Musonda and Rodrick Kabwe but it didn’t entirely cure the disease in central defence.

From 2-0 down in 20 minutes to being 2-2 and at that point, we were all at the edge of our seats as the winning goal seemed like coming Zambia’s way, with Chipolopolo totally dominating the African champions. But that did not stop Kabaso from being Kabaso. The TP Mazembe defender has to date left many trying to painfully figure out what he really wanted to do with the ball before it was collected from him leading to Algeria’s third goal. That just dimmed the burning spirits in Augustine Mulenga, outstanding Clatous Chota Chama, Patson Daka, Lubambo and other forward players who were really flying, working every minute with real desire to win it.

All of a sudden, when all hopes of a winning goal were high, Algeria was gifted with a third goal and our attacking players started fighting for an equaliser instead of a winner that could have taken Zambia to Zimbabwe with something to fight for.

Eventually, with relentless fighting, a third goal came and almost a fourth in the dying minutes, save for the goal post and a disallowed goal, Zambia was out! Just like that…

For those that didn’t watch the game, Algeria scored three soft goals in similar fashion, from same elementary defensive mistakes. That’s the more reason Micho needs to change personnel in that department. I still stick to my long-held opinion, whether coaches like it or not, that Clement Mwape Mulanshi, Luka Banda and Tandi Mwape should regularly be used in central defence, going forward. The trio combines solidity, agility and serenity in difficult circumstances than what we saw on Thursday night. You can’t keep on sending boy-scouts to do a commando’s job and expect to come out without fatalities.

All in all, Zambia showed tremendous improvement and character that night but we lost it because of bad defenders, nothing else. And there is nothing anyone sitting in the terraces could do. As for those questioning the referee, there is nothing much to say to you but that if the game was in Algeria, that disallowed goal by the home side could have stood, you know what that means.

For the fans, we saw what some of the players we wanted to be called can give us and I hope that debate is now settled. In any case, these players were promised US $15,000 (K330,000) as qualification bonus, had they won the two games.

The government was to give them $7,000 with FAZ adding $8,000. And if $15,000 in 180 minutes cannot motivate you, then what will?

Bwana Micho, sort out that defence before June World Cup qualifiers start, twacula pafula!

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