AS the debate on coach Herve Renard’s contract continues, soccer fans across the country have expressed divergent views with some urging the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to maintain the Frenchman for
Meanwhile, veteran soccer analyst Jeff Msisya has advised Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili to allow people to freely discuss the issue without his interference.
Some fans feel the Frenchman’s contract should be extended beyond 2014 when it expires, while others feel his performance should be reviewed and yet others suggest he should be replaced with a local coach.
Those for the idea of Renard’s contact being renewed feel he has proved his worth by winning Zambia the Africa Cup, Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) and the Mandela Cup.
They said Renard has managed to identify young and talented players and should be given a chance to build a stronger team that they feel can do wonders at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Morocco
and even qualify to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Msisya said in Lusaka yesterday that it was unfair for the minister to lash out at the Zambia Football Coaches Association (ZAFCA) in the manner he did because whatever the coaches were saying was not final, but that they were merely expressing their opinion.
He said the coaches should be left to debate the matter freely because they were experts in the field and understood very well what was at stake, therefore, allowing them to discuss would help to bring out valuable aspects that maybe even the minister was not aware about.
Msisya said the minister should be the last person to comment on the matter because at the end of the day his opinion would matter more than any other person’s, hence allowing people to debate the issue would help him to make a more informed decision.
Msisya said Renard’s contract should not be renewed because he has failed to deliver on the contractual obligations and his promises especially now that Zambia has failed to qualify to the Brazil 2014 World Cup after losing 2-1 to Ghana in Kumasi last Friday.
“If you look at the way the national team has performed since 2012, there is nothing that you will see that indicates that Renard had ever been on a path to lead Zambia to any victory. The problem with Zambians is that we scared of change,” he said.
Another analyst Marcha Chilemena, who is a former FAZ executive committee member, said the association should consider engaging a local coach and also suggested that the country starts grooming young players to replace some tired legs in the senior Chipolopolo team.
Chilemena said it was incumbent upon FAZ to decide whether Renard’s contract is extended or not, but he was of the view that it was time Zambia engaged a local coach for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“So far, so good; Herve Renard has been the best coach in Zambia. He has won us the Africa Cup; he has won us the COSAFA and he also won us the Mandela Challenge Cup. On record and with these competitions, he’s the best coach so far and if the FAZ, who are supposed to be his employers, are happy they can renew his contract.
But my strong point of view is that we must now as country begin to teach our own people. Nigeria has demonstrated with Stephen Keshi that with a local coach, who was an ex-player and former captain of the
national team, you can win the Africa Cup,” Chilemena said.
Derick Kondowe, alias ‘Dangerous Joburg’ who travelled with the team to Kumasi, said Renard has failed to perform to the expectations of the Zambian people, saying he lacked foresight on making timely
substitutions and misled FAZ on his programme to camp the team in South Africa when he knew temperatures in Ghana were hot.
He said Zambia could not have lost the match had it not been for poor judgment to his line-up by playing Emmanuel Mayuka as a lone striker upfront when he was supposed to be attacking, but he decided to go
with a defensive approach when Zambia needed to win at all costs.
Kondowe said the PF Government in an unprecedented effort, has spent colossal sums of money where they have even chartered aircrafts to ferry the team and fans, but was let down by the team’s inability to score; heaping the blame on Renard who he suggested should be replaced with a Zambian coach who understands the local system of play better.
Harrison Phiri of Lusaka said despite the team not making it to the last round of qualifiers it had performed well and the coach therefore, deserved a second chance, while Charles Chungu said the biggest
mistake that the team made was to draw with Lesotho and Sudan, adding despite that, the team played very well.
Michael Bitonte of Ndola said despite failing to qualify for the Brazil 2014 World Cup second round of qualifiers, Renard was the right man for the Chipolopolo job because he has won the Africa Cup for the
first time in Zambia’s soccer history and he has the qualities to take the national team to greater heights.
Stephen Bwalya said changing coaches every time the team performed badly was not the solution to challenges facing the national team saying; there is need to keep Renard in order to give him an opportunity to make amends for surrendering the AFCON championship and for missing out on the 2014 African Nations Championships and the World Cup.
But Samson Mbewe said Renard’s performance should be reviewed before his contract could be renewed because it was common practice everywhere.