FAZ: Resign, Kamanga told
Salutations to you and your executive.
On Sunday, October 10, 2021, the senior national team drew 1-all against Equatorial Guinea at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka. This result comes on the back of a 2-0 defeat by the same team three days earlier and effectively ends our aspirations to see Chipolopolo at the 2022 World Cup finals to be hosted by Qatar.
While Zambia has never qualified to the FIFA World Cup, our aim as a regional footballing powerhouse is to make it to that lucrative competition and showcase the immense football talent our country churns out year-in-year-out.
From the day you were elected as FAZ president on March 20, 2016, Zambians have waited with high expectations of your ability to deliver positive results going by a well sold campaign you fronted. The message you outlined was transparency and accountability while delivering results as Head of FAZ.
Sadly, the message you delivered to football councilors and the country at large does not correspond with the results you have produced. Soon after you were elected, Zambia was engaged in qualifiers for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. Chipolopolo failed to make the trip after a dismal performance in the qualifiers.
At the time of that failure, which was only the second time we missed out on the trip to the competition in 30 years, you claimed the circumstances were as results of an inherited poor start string of performances you inherited from the previous leadership as when the qualifiers started.
In 2019, the Confederations of African Football (CAF) adjusted upward the number of finalists at the tournament from 16 to 24. Yet again, under your watch, Chipolopolo failed to make the trip for the tournament hosted by Egypt.
Zambians gave you the benefit of doubt on the first attempt and stomached the shame on the second attempt. As if that was not enough, Chipolopolo was called to duty for the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Cameroon. You, for the second time since the numbers were increased to 24, have failed to inspire the team despite parading some of the country’s best talent in the last two decades.
As well as failing to qualify to three Africa Cup of Nations, you have also not inspired the Chipolopolo to make a maiden trip to the World Cup both in Russia 2018 and now Qatar 2022.
The only consolation you have is the 2017 Africa Cup under 20 win and subsequent quarterfinal finish at the FIFA World Cup in South Korea the same year.
The results posted by the women’s team at the maiden Olympic showing in 2020 (staged in 2021), while commendable, is not commensurate to the pedigree of Zambian football.
Therefore, going by your record, I find it within me as a concerned Zambian to request that you step down and allow other people who are equally competent, carry the mantle of leading the team.
As a former FAZ executive committee member, lawmaker and senior member of the Public Accounts Committee at Parliament, it is part of my duty and responsibility to hold each other as leaders accountable. You, Mr. Kamanga, were elected on the principle of accountability and transparency while achieving the desired results.
Alas, what we have observed is failure after failure and an attempt to annihilate dissenting voices by manipulating football legislations to suit a narrow agenda. And I take extreme umbrage to this approach which has created a toxic and divided atmosphere in our sport and the country at large.
If anything, the attempt to target those you may not agree with or those who have opposed the style of management is partly the reason our football standards have dwindled to these embarrassing levels. You have spent more time scheming to eliminate your opponents while football suffers.
Reading your statement in the aftermath of the World Cup failure in which you shift blame to the players whereby you urge the fans not to vilify them while exonerating yourself that you had invested in preparation that should have yielded positive returns gives a sad picture of what is obtaining in our game.
Mr. Kamanga, you take no responsibility for the status of our game but find it reasonable to apportion blame on others. Granted, you are the only old face in the current executive which was elected in February 2021. Yet, you carry over the same vision that you pledged to advance since assuming office in 2021.
Further, as the overall Head of the technical committee, which you have redesigned so that you may have direct influence of the selection of the players to the national team, you take no stock of why we are where we currently are.
Since 2016 and under your discretion, we have changed coaches five times. You arrived on the scene when George Lwandamina was in charge. Under your watch, we have changed coaches with the responsibility of mentoring the team crossing from Lwandamina, Wedson Nyirenda, Sven Vandebroek, Miroslav ‘Micho’ Sredojević and now Beston Chambeshi and the Croatians.
The high turn-over of coaches at the senior national team goes to show the serious instability driven by an acute sense of indecision. At junior national team level, the under-17, under-20 and under-23 structures are in tatters needing urgent attention as these provide the buffer for future senior national team selection.
In view of the foregoing, allow me to impress on your conscience to a decision that imputes the responsibility of serving the country over self to pave way for a fresh leadership that may have better ideas to drive our number one sport forward.
Mr. Kamanga, please accept my request for you to resign forthwith in the interest of Zambian football.
Yours in football