ZAMBIA’S preparations for the must-win 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Mozambique this weekend have suffered a big blow after French Ligue Two side, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard refused to release defender, Stoppila Sunzu.
Sochaux are claiming the Chipolopolo skipper, who failed to finish a league game last Friday, is injured and have since sent a medical report written in French to the English-speaking Zambian medical team.
But this has angered the Chipolopolo management team, who have instead demanded that Sunzu, like any other player, report to the Zambian camp so that the team medical staff can make their own assessment of the said injury.
At the height of the new club-versus-country row, Chipolopolo team doctor, Joseph Kabungo said Sochaux had just sent a report of Sunzu’s injury and declined to let him travel to Zambia to be assessed by the local doctors.
“We have competent experts and specialists to examine him. We have MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanners here in Zambia. We can also have physical examinations on him. But it is not right for them to keep him there where procedure says he should come and get examined.
“All we are saying is that it is not correct to hold on to a player and just reply on a phone call or email. I think it is not the correct procedure to handle a player’s welfare especially in times of injuries like this one,” he said.
Zambia go to Mozambique for this key encounter against a team that are equal on points with on five points with the winner of this game to be all but confirmed a qualified side to the 2015 AFCON finals.
Kabungo said according to the Sochaux report, Sunzu sustained an injury on Friday in a match he played 65 minutes and that he had a problem with one of his hamstrings and that by Tuesday this week, they were still assessing him from France.
But the standard procedure according to Kabungo was that the club should send Sunzu to Zambia to enable the national team medics come up with their own opinion.
”Stoppila Sunzu is not only a Sochaux player he is also a Zambian, a national team player and we all have his interest at heart. We are not against the club for what they have done for him. We commend them for that but we have to do things right,” he said.
As if that was not enough, Kabungo said the Sochaux medical team sent the report in French when they knew that the Zambian team doctor does not speak French and this meant the document had to be interpreted by a third party.
“Unfortunately I did not like the way the medical report was sent. It was in French. I don’t speak French and I think it was a big oversight from them. A medical report is supposed to be written by a medical doctor in a language that it would not be misinterpreted by the people,” he said.
Kabungo, however, remained hopeful Sunzu would make the trip to Zambia to be assessed and that if the medical examinations prove that he was not fit to feature in the two crucial AFCON qualifiers, then he will be excused from national duty.
Apart from the gloomy picture on Sunzu, there was a good news on goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and holding midfelder, Nathan Sinkala who have both had been assessed and passed fit for the Mozambique game in Maputo.
“Kennedy has a problem in the right side of his groin but we are managing that as a medical team and Nathan had a recurrent pain in the front of the knee but he is training well and no one should worry that they might miss the game,” he said.
Chipolopolo coach, Honour Janza summoned 27 players for the two AFCON Group F qualifiers against Mozambique on Saturday and Cape Verde next Wednesday in Ndola.
The 2012 AFCON champions are expected to leave for Maputo today.
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