[By Darious Kapembwa in Harare, Zimbabwe]
CHIPOLOPOLO midfielder Enock Mwepu has sent a passionate plea to the fans not to give up on the current Chipolopolo squad, saying “we feel your pain but don’t give up on us because your support is going to take us to the World Cup.”
And winger Lubambo Musonda believes that Chipolopolo is now a strong team that just needs a few additions and more consistency to qualify to the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Emmanuel Chenda has told the players to forget about the AfCON disappointment and look forward to taking the country to the first World Cup because the team has shown the ability to rise to the occasion like they displayed against Algeria in a 3-3 draw last Thursday.
In an interview, both Mwepu and Musonda regretted missing on the AfCON but stressed that the team now had very few areas to gel and consistently play together to achieve the World Cup dream.
“My words to them (fans) is that football without them is nothing. We feel their pain, we feel how they are disappointed and we as players we take up the responsibility,” he said. “It’s them that make us better. You know, their support really makes us strong. So if they move away from us or they throw us away, we won’t pull ourselves and get there. So, we need them in this moment. If they can support us, then definitely we as players can take up the challenge and make them happy and proud. So, they should keep praying for us and supporting us and we will give them what they deserve in return.”
Mwepu expressed confidence that the team could qualify for the World Cup.
“For me I believe we can go to the World Cup because we have a group of players working hard, which is passionate and knows what lies ahead of us,” said Mwepu. “We have learnt so much in these failures that we have failed to qualify to the AfCON. We know the pain in our hearts. So I see a new team that shall really take us to another level; only if everybody has the right mentality and shows the character, good attitude on and off the pitch. I think that’s what will take us to the World Cup.”
And Musonda appealed to fans never to lose hope in the team, adding that the target of qualifying to a maiden World Cup was a reality.
“They (fans) shouldn’t lose hope. We are here, this is the time we need their support. They should stand by us and we will definitely give them what they want. I believe we can go to the World Cup because we now have a team,” said Musonda.
“Building a complete team is not an overnight thing. There has to be a lot of coordination, understanding between players and the technical bench; hoping that it won’t take long. Definitely we are working very hard, we will take every game seriously, starting today (Sunday night) and prepare adequately for the games. I believe in the team. We are able to qualify. We have got good players with quality, there is nothing we can fail. I think we can go to the World Cup.”
And Ambassador Chenda urged coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic to be strong and turn the set back into an opportunity to take the World Cup qualifiers strongly.
“We have never been to the World Cup, so you are the new team that will take us to the World Cup. So, forget what has happened. Let’s start by beating Zimbabwe here so that we look to the future games positively. We saw you against Algeria, you did the best, it wasn’t just your day,” said Ambassador Chenda when he addressed the players at Rainbow Tower where the team was based.