IF THE Under-23 national team’s embarrassing performance in Senegal is not entirely Fighton Simukonda’s fault, George ‘Chicken’ Lwandamina and the whole technical bench must be fired too, says football administrator Simataa Simataa.
He was commenting on media reports that Simukonda was fired as junior Chipolopolo mentor soon after the disgraced team’s arrival from Dakar where Zambia failed to win or draw even a single match after months of preparation and costly friendly games.
Simataa said in an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday that FAZ should not use Simukonda as a scapegoat while they swept their failure under the carpet.
He said it was illogical to put the blame on Simukonda alone yet the technical bench had the senior coach Lwandamina and Under-23 assistant Tenant Chilumba.
“In fact Simukonda was not ‘fired’ but relieved of his duties because he had no contract but was a casual worker.
‘‘In this circumstance FAZ hid their failure by using Fighton as a scapegoat. When did the technical committee meet? What are their findings? Did a Senegal post-mortem take place?,”
“I suspect a blame game and Fighton is the excuse. If the poor performance is totally the fault of Fighton, they can let go of him. But if the concerns also point at Lwandamina and everyone on the technical bench, then they must follow too,” he said.
Simataa said the development should serve as a warning to others who think they can trust FAZ.
“This is a warning to other coaches. Do not be cheated with ‘patriotism’ by non-patriots. It is unfortunate that one man had to pay the price for the Senegal outing,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from FAZ communications manager Nkweto Tembwe failed as his phones went unanswered.
A FAZ insider revealed that Simukonda had been given a red card on arrival from Senegal where his charges lost all the three group stage matches at the on-going Senegal 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, shattering Zambia’s much talked about Rio 2016 Olympic dream.
Zambia will have to wait four years to compete in another Olympic qualifier tournament.