So, we are just finishing the FIFA international window where almost all members are involved in international friendly matches to prepare or asses their teams for upcoming competitive engagements.
FAZ on their part decided to organise three friendly matches, two in West Africa and one in the northern part of the continent. Obviously, the opponents were selected bearing in mind that in the coming world
cup qualifiers, Zambia is pitted against the likes of Mauritania, Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea. This was done so that the players could have a feel of
what they expect when the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers begin in three months’ time.
Of the three countries picked, the ‘Teranga Lions’ of Senegal was, of course, the most outstanding pick because the team has everything one could wish for; and coach Alliou Cisse respected Zambia by calling the cream of Senegalese football including Liverpool super striker Sadio Mane. But it was interesting to see the squad that Chipolopolo coach Milutin
‘Micho’ Sredojevic picked for these three assignments against Senegal, Benin and Sudan.
Since the purpose of those three friendly matches was to prepare for the world cup qualifiers, we all expected to see a full team of players that will be competing in those qualifiers. But, anyway, we found ourselves with most senior players excused from the assignments due to various reasons.
Lubambo Musonda was not available for one reason or the other, Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka did not make it because they were
‘sorting’ out their supposed transfer issues.
Well, the last friendly match is today against Sudan, we are yet to hear what has been resolved. At least for Fashion we know that his move to Glasgow Rangers in Scotland is all but done, with only medicals to be sorted out. Clatous Chama and his elder brother Adrian had the most genuine of excuses, a funeral. But, I think whatever the case might have been, Augustine Mulenga, Rodrick Kabwe and Justin Shonga should have been part of the team because we will certainly see these faces when the qualifiers start. Or simply put, the team that drew with Algeria in the AfCON qualifiers at Heroes stadium and went on to beat Zimbabwe in Harare needed to be in these friendlies.
Anyway, I am not a coaching expert but I think, to gauge ourselves fairly ahead of the world cup qualifiers, we needed to do what Senegal did, pick the best. Without any malice or prejudice, I don’t think the likes of Prince Mumba, Gregory Sianjase and company will be in the final world cup squad.
I also thought that Ntazana Mayembe should have played all the three games full time in order to judge him fairly. He has not played in Africa before and he needed to get a real feel of African competition just for him to appreciate what he is coming up against and let Zambian’s judge him fairly.
Regardless, the friendly matches were organised and very good ones for that matter. Again, kudos to FAZ for that. But the question still remains, did the coach miss an opportunity to assess his charges fully
ahead of these crucial qualifiers? With UEFA European competitions beginning two days ago, the COPA America also beginning in Brazil this week, there may be no any other international break to see everyone we need for the qualifiers.
I ask again, did Micho miss an opportunity in this transfer window? Anyway, we wait and see.
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