The rejected stone becomes the cornerstone

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 10:56:42 +0000


… The case of Beston Chambeshi and his U-20 team



IT IS all done and dusted and just like they say, the best team wins the competition and talking about the Under-20 that Zambia hosted and eventually won, it was a tournament that will go in the annals of Zambian history as one of the best for our team.

Before the COSAFA tournament in South Africa last year, most Zambian fans knew little about the current crop of players that has grabbed a deserved AFCON championship as most of them come from very humble backgrounds, save for a few faces like Mangani Banda who has had a decent time with the Under-17 team.

Coach Beston Chambeshi himself did not leave Nkana in good faith as he was taunted and branded a failure with the soft-spoken mentor needing police escort out of Nkana stadium after the Red Devils were beaten 3-0 by Lusaka Dynamos in a FAZ/MTN week 10 match sometime in May, 2015.

That was the beginning of worse things to come for him until he left the noisy and ever-demand Wusakile fans to venture into other assignments such that even when his appointment to the U-20 came, very few of his critics gave him a benefit of doubt to excel.

Just last year, most of us knew Edward Chilufya as a simple but talented player who was in grade 12 N at Mungwi technical secondary school. Other than the fact that his talent was visible for anyone to see, no one peeped into the future to even make a simplest guess of what would come out of him but that rollercoaster performance in the semi-final which made him grab a winner against South Africa tells it all.

If there are players who have endured a torrid time punctuated by long spells on the bench and poor team performances at their clubs in the previous season, then it is Boyd Musonda and midfield maestro Enoch Mwepu.

Musonda spent almost the entire season at Zanaco on the bench as he was not a consistent starter while Mwepu endured an unforgettable season at Napsa, a despised team by its own fans as it struggled for consistency.

Mangani Banda is a third choice goal keeper at Zanaco while Chrispine Sakulanda’s Mufulira Wanderers was almost demoted and only survived the chop by a whisker after finishing the league with a paltry 39 points and sitting just four paces from the relegation zone.

Things have been worse for Patson Daka who was taunted by Zambian fans after he was rushed into the senior national team where he made very little impact compared to the hype surrounding the justification for his inclusion.

From the many potential U-20 inclusions, Chambeshi picked his best team consisting of these young lads and left for South Africa to conquer the region at the time that most Zambians did not give him a chance to excel but it was the same “rejected” players by their clubs that gave him the desired results until Zambia was crowned COSAFA champions.

Before the AFCON tournament began in Zambia, most fans were only relishing a World Cup qualification and the very idea that these boys would grab the continental trophy was never part of the discussion because for many, the best Zambia could do was at least to win two games and go to South Korea.

Chambeshi himself described a semi-final qualification as a dream come true and only started believing his gun had enough ammunition in the armoury to go all the way to the final after the 3-1 demolition of the young Pharaohs of Egypt.

Resilience, determination, discipline, and teamwork won it for Zambia as the team defended as a unit when they lost the ball and kept possession long enough to but their opponents in disarray.

An even distribution of the ball on the pitch and the hunger to score goals propelled this Dream Team to victory and it goes without saying that this talent, if well nurtured and prepared for the World Cup, will be the team to watch as it has the quality only seen in European leagues.

With good preparations for the World Cup, this crop of players may just be out to stun the whole world

As the World Cup draws will be conducted tomorrow, the whole world will be hoping to avoid the Chipolopolo in their groups because the boys have sent a warning shots that they are not a team to toy around with.

Well done boys and good luck!!



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