President Michael Sata has called on the Zambia National Soccer team in Nelspruit, South Africa, to fully apply their energy and prowess when they step into the pitch tomorrow until the end of the tournament.
And government has announced that the players will each get US$90,000 if they retain the cup this year.
Youth and Sport minister Chishimba Kambwili announced this immediately after the President delivered his goodwill message to the players.
Sata, who was accompanied by First Lady Christine Kaseba, urged the Chipolopolo boys to utilize their youthful energy and play with vigor to retain the African football trophy which they won last year.
He said youthfulness is associated with victory noting that young people successfully fought for the independence of Zambia and other countries.
He said the Chipolopolo team has worked very hard in the past to reach the level at which they are hence the need to apply the same spirit of hard work in the ongoing AFCON tournament.
The President said this today when he addressed the boys at Protea Hotel in Nelspruit (Mbombela).
Sata told the team to win the tournament again to honour the national team which perished in Gabon about 20 years.
“You people you need to reflect. You have a debt to pay. We lost a strong team in Gabon who were young like you and you have to prove that our brothers did not die in vain in Gabon,” he said.
He said he decided to visit the team to deliver a message from the Zambia that they were confident that the team was going to retain the prestigious continental trophy.
And Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili has announced that the players will each get US$90,000 if they retain the cup.
Kambwili announced this immediately after the President delivered his goodwill message to the players.
He further said each player will get US$20,000 if they qualify to the finals of the 2013 AFCON tournament.
And Football Association of Zambia president Kalusha Bwalya says the success of the team has been based on the organization between his association and the Ministry of Sport.
Bwalya said the player were disciplined and determined to retain the cup.
Meanwhile, national team Coach Herve Renard, said the team was ready to kick off the tournament tomorrow because it was physically and mentally prepared.
Renard said the President’s visit to the team was a big morale booster to the team adding that it underscored the support of the Zambian people.
And team captain Christopher Katongo has thanked the President for the visit saying it was the first time in history for a President to visit the team in camp.
Zambia is playing against Ethiopia tomorrow before meeting other group C mates Nigeria and Burkina Faso later this month.
Other teams jostling for the trophy are South Africa, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Ghana, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Morocco and Tunisia.
The rest are Central African Republic, Togo and Mali.
Group A teams have one point each as they all drew nil-nil yesterday. The group A teams are South Africa, Cape Verde, Angola and Morocco.