Micho stuck in contract limbo

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - Chipolopolo gaffer Milutin “Micho” Sredojec will only know whether or not he will get a formal contract to manage Zambia’s national football team after the local soccer league resumes, says Sports Minister Emmanuel Mulenga.

The Serbian put pen to paper on a contract offer to him and was officially unveiled as the Chipolopolo coach on February 3 this year, but the government is yet to counter-sign despite Attorney-General Likando Kalaluka endorsed Micho’s work permit.

The government says its major concern is resumption of the MTN Super League, which has been put on ice because of the COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed 10 Zambian lives.

Further, the FA and government are awaiting the outcome of litigation filed by the former coach Sven Vandenbroeck, who alleges he is still owed money for his stint as the coach of Zambia’s senior men’s national football team. Vandenbroeck, who is from Belgium, resigned his post in 2019.

“We will look at Micho’s contract as soon as we are done with the issue of opening the league because we are all running around to make sure that we attend to the desire of the soccer fans who have been calling upon our ministry to make sure that we open the league.” Sports Minister Mulenga told The Southern Times.

He said the government was not indifferent to Micho’s situation, and he thanked the Serbian trainer for his commitment to leading Zambia to next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He would not say if Micho, who formerly coached giants Orlando Pirates (South Africa) and Zamalek (Egypt), has drawn a salary since February.

At the time of his unveiling as head coach, the government said it would contribute US$25,000 monthly to his wages while the Football Association of Zambia would pay US$10,000.

Mulenga said: “The Zambian government only has one lawyer, who is the attorney-general. And the Zambian government only has one financier, who is the Ministry of Finance … So, in us coming up with a contract that is going to satisfy everyone and the people of Zambia, all the (departments) that are involved should be consulted so that we also avert those challenges of not paying coaches in good time; to avoid issues of being taken to the international body for sanctions.

Micho could not be reached for comment as his 70-year-old mother, Rada, died in Serbia and he was attending to personal matters.

Meanwhile, should Zambia fail to definitively deal with Vandenbroeck’s issue, Chipolopolo could find themselves in the same leaky boat as Zimbabwe did in 2015.

At that time, Brazilian-born coach José “Valinhos” Claudinei Georgini sued Zimbabwe for unpaid dues, resulting in FIFA disqualifying the Warriors from participating in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

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