ZAMBIA coach, Herve Renard and his technical staff yesterday kicked-off the nationwide assessment of players with the view to identify new gems for possible inclusion in the developmental teams for the 2013 COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup and 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.
A total of 220 players from all 10 provinces in Zambia will be fighting to impress the national team selectors and hope to break into the Chipolopolo squad proper.
In an interview after the first assessment at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola yesterday where 44 players were battling for recognition, Renard said they decided to have a wide view of players across the nation and unearth some hidden talent which could have been missed in the past.
Renard said merely looking at the league could not be enough to identify some good players for the national team, hence the need to cast the net wide.
The Chipolopolo boss said the concept was conceived after seeing local teams struggling on the international stage and expressed hope that fresh talent would be discovered during the programme.
He said it was better to begin detecting some players now across the nation and emphasised the need to make it a tradition.
“It’s always better to prepare for the future now. It doesn’t matter who will be coach in six months but since I am the coach now, I will ensure we do our best,” he said.
Renard said with the COSAFA Cup and CHAN qualifiers coming up this year, there was need for the involvement of local players.
He said he would love so see new players knocking on the Chipolopolo door as that would create more competition.
Renard gave an example of Chipolopolo midfielder, Nathan Sinkala, who he said came at least once for national team trials and was not even considered for the CHAN squad but that now he commands a first team place in the team.
“We started this a long time ago. Between 2008 and 2010, we saw 150 players come for the national team. Nathan Sinkala came once and he was not even in the CHAN team but now he is part of the Chipolopolo,” he said.
FAZ technical director, Honour Janza said Zambia’s 10 provinces had been divided into five regions and that each region would be accorded two days of active play of football. Each region will showcase the best 44 players, who include four goalkeepers.
Janza said after the process which would end before March 15, the national team selectors would be sure of having captured at least more than 90 per cent of active players across the nation.
He said 15 coaches were drawn from each province to select the best players and that the national team selectors were confident that the regional trainers did their best to tap hidden talen.