Just when the majority of Zambians thought government would reduce support to the national soccer team because of its dismal performance at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013 tournament in South Africa, the former has pledged to fully sponsor the Chipolopolo boys for better football show ups in future.
Ministry of Youth and Sport Permanent Secretary Agness Musunga reiterated continue support to the Chipolopolo but quickly reminded the players that government and soccer loving Zambians expected a much better feat from the boys.
Musunga said the early exit of Zambia from the ongoing AFCON tournament following the boys’ ‘speciality’ on draws in all three games of the group stage was a lesson to government, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), the team’s technical bench and entire soccer fraternity.
Zambia was eliminated from the tournament after a goalless draw in a must-win game with Burkina Faso, who has since progressed to the quarter finals.
Musunga was speaking at Kenneth Kaunda International airport when she led a delegation to welcome part of the Chipolopolo boys and team officials last night.
She urged the team not to lose hope but to fiercely commit to qualifying to the world cup tournament in Brazil next year.
FAZ General Secretary George Kansegele described Zambia’s untimely exit at the AFCON as a minor setback.
Kasengele said Zambia was a strong team although it failed to meet the aspirations of the Zambian people.
He has since assured Zambians that the national soccer team will qualify to the world cup competition next year.
Chipolopolo boys trainer Herve Renard shouldered the blame from Zambians on behalf of the national team for the ‘embarrassment’ caused by the unsatisfactory performance at the tournament.
Renard noted that Zambia made a mistake when she failed to beat Ethiopia but reiterated that the team played well despite failing to win other Group C games.
Zambia is the second reigning champions to have gone been eliminated from the tournament in group stages. The first was Algeria in 1992 when there were four groups of three teams each.
Zambia’s one-year reign as African football champions is the shortest in the history of the AFCON tournament after the competition was switched to odd years this year.