“IF YOU can’t take your scoring chances, you pay the price,” Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya has said.
And that price for Zambia was an exit from the Africa Cup of Nations finals at the group stage.
Kalusha said in an interview here yesterday that it is disappointing to go out of the championship but noted that at this level of competition, a team has to make the most of scoring opportunities.
“We were not clinical in front of goal. If you don’t score goals you don’t progress,” Kalusha said.
He, however, said Zambia played well especially in limiting the opponents’ scoring chances.
Kalusha said the players are disappointed with the ejection, but they proved that they are good at keeping opponents at bay.
He said in all three matches (against Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso) “we didn’t give away too many chances”.
Kalusha said despite the disappointing outcome, Zambia did prepare well for the future tournaments and that there is no need for fault-finding.
“You don’t have to find a fault where there is no fault,” he said.
Kalusha also said the statistic that Zambia is still undefeated in nine AfCON matches is of little consequence because the team is out of contention for the 2013 title.
He said the quest for World Cup qualification is a completely different matter and Zambia has to take “everything in our stride”.
Meanwhile, Davies Nkausu who suffered an ankle injury in the game against Burkina Faso is under medical assessment.
Team doctor, Joseph Kabungo said Nkausu is to undergo a thorough assessment to determine the scope of the injury.
Nkausu limped off the pitch in tears early in the first half after failing to shake off the injury inflicted by skipper Charles Kabore.
And ROBINSON KUNDA reports that former national team coach Patrick Phiri said Zambia’s 1-1 draw with Ethiopia contributed to the team’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.
“In a big tournament like that, you must beat small teams and Ethiopia was a small team. All the teams in Group C amassed full points from their games against Ethiopia and that is why they qualified,” he said.
Another former Chipolopolo coach Freddie Mwila said Zambia’s elimination from the Africa Cup is disappointing.
Mwila said as defending champions Zambia deserved to progress to the quarter-finals.
“It is very disappointing to be knocked out in the first round as champions but that is football. We have to move on,” he said.
He advised fans never to lose hope because the team has the World Cup to qualify for.
“Genuine soccer fans never give up just because of losing. We never lost a game but maybe again we were not good enough to win a match,” Mwila said.
Zambia Football Coaches Association president Patrick Kangwa said coach Herve Renard should continue drilling the Chipolopolo, ELIZABETH CHATUVELA reports.
Kangwa said Renard has proved that he is a good coach.
“The elimination is unfortunate. But let me appeal to fans not to use their emotions to crucify the coach. The problem with us Zambians is that we forget too quickly,” he said.
National Sports Council of Zambia vice-chairman Mwamba Kalenga said the players should take the blame for Zambia’s elimination.
“For me, the coach has no problem, but our players. It’s sad that our team couldn’t score even when Government gave them all the support. In fact, the players owe Zambians an apology,” he said.
Division One (South) Nakambala Leopards coach Wilson Mwale said he has failed to come to terms with Zambia’s elimination.
“I almost fainted after Zambia’s goalless draw with Burkina Faso but my wife gave me two glasses of water. I did not expect the champions to be out at this stage,” Mwale said.
Lusaka Youth Soccer Academy chairman Leenus Kaputa said there is need for cool heads to prevail as Zambia charts the way forward.
Kaputa said emotions have no place in modern football.
“The loss is not the end of the road. We have won the Africa Cup before and qualifying for the World Cup can help regain what we have lost,” Kaputa said.