By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - Amid myriad criticisms from soccer fans and administrators for failing to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, Chipolopolo’s Belgian-born national team trainer, Sven Vandenbroek has defended his lacklustre performance and proposed the extension of his contract to 2022 to allow him to rebuild the team.
Zambia’s poor performance against Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Namibia during the group K African Cup of Nations Qualifier matches ahead of the finals to be held next year that left the team on the tail end with a paltry four points, has forced the soccer fans to raise the issue with President Edgar Lungu urging the team to restrategise.
The Football Association of Zambia President, Andrew Kamanga, regrets the poor showing of the once continental champions and promises that the FA would devise remedies to bring back glory to the former African Champions.
“FAZ expects measures to restore the integrity of the team as you know it is very painful to fail to qualify to the Africa Cup,” Kamanga said on arrival from Mozambique this week.
But amid criticisms, Vandenbroek believes the team still has potential to rise to the occasion and rekindle its faded reputation as former continental champions.
He has since sought the FA’s consideration to extend its nine-month contract for another four years and allow him to realign the team’s tactics and take the country to the 2022 Qatar World Cup final.
A statement from the trainer indicates his desire to remain on top of the team and replan its qualification to the next world cup encounter after devising various methods and ensuring the team reached the Africa’s top teams.
Zambian players are good but lack consistency while the country needs to set up three Under-20 teams to allow the technical bench to have a pool of players to pick from unlike one. While the coaching staff and players held a good relationship, Zambia lacked enough capable coaches with computer knowledge to assist him at national level in redesigning strategies, a modern trend in football among coaching personnel.
He said despite the team’s failure to qualify for the finals, tremendous improvements have been made to the national team. Based on his analysis, Zambia was capable once again of lifting the continental cup and compete effectively at the Qatar 2022 and impress the country.
“I have been here for a short spell of time and we have made tremendous progress as a team and that is why I need another four years to rebuild the team tactically and technically… you can say that I don’t like making progress but I have often made changes to the team that have given us good results.
“Even when you win others will still say negative things but we shall analyse as technical bench and make a report on our previous matches before our next match (Namibia). Otherwise, it is too soon to determine what I’ll do because we’ll have to do some evaluations,” added the 38-year-old former Cameroonian assistant trainer.
He suggested the introduction of a system where every team in the MTN/FAZ Super League has to feature three Under-20 players to bridge the age-gap currently obtaining in the Chipolopolo. Zambia had a lot of offensive players but lacked defensive options.
The Belgian also advised players not to rush to go abroad in pursuit of professional careers but end up not playing actively.
“Lacking game time in Europe for most of our young players is blocking their progress. We must bridge the gap between senior players and young players by having more young players playing competitively regularly,”
Sven has introduced scientific sessions for players and coaches as well saying he would love coaches in the league to equip themselves with computerised technical knowledge like the systems obtaining in Europe.