Renard debate healthy

Herve Renard

PLAYING at the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup is now water under the bridge for Zambia.
It is now time to focus our energies on other important national assignments.
But first before the water is completely swept away, I just want to mention the raging debate that ensued last week after Zambia’s elimination from the World Cup race for Brazil by Ghana on a 2-1 score line the other week, on whether coach Herve Renard’s contract should be renewed or not.
I followed the argument keenly and I must say it was a healthy debate which brought out important issues from the Minister of Sport Chishimba Kambwili, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), the Zambia Football Coaches Association (ZAFCA) and soccer fans.
Renard had indicated he has a programme for the team after the Ghana match – to me that symbolised he is not going anywhere anytime soon.
FAZ said Renard has a contract running until 2014 and a decision over the coach’s contract would only be made then- meaning he is still very much around. Kambwili said Government would follow whatever FAZ decides, while most soccer fans feel Renard should be given another contract when the current one expires because he has a vision for Zambian football and others feel he must go.
ZAFCA is of the view that Renard’s performance should be reviewed before the contract could be renewed.
All views expressed here are valid and like any opinion – they must be respected.
If you had to ask for my opinion, I feel Renard needs a performance appraisal if his contract were to be renewed – it’s normal procedure anywhere in the world.
We need to review and analyse Renard and the team’s performance.
We all know we lost it when we dropped points against Lesotho and Sudan, but what’s the way forward?
A lot of lessons should be learnt from the previous World Cup experiences in totality starting with the preparations for the Lesotho outing, Sudan and Ghana, the issue of team planning, flight planning, player selection and substitutions, and so on.
Honestly speaking, teams like Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are through to next month’s play-offs and are only 180 minutes from their maiden World Cup appearance; are these three nations about to overtake Zambia in the pecking order of Africa’s finest footballing nations?
Come next World Cup qualifiers, could Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia land a World Cup berth ahead of Zambia, their schoolmaster and at one time ranked number one in Africa?
It’s unimaginable, but a possibility if we do not put measures in place.
As a way forward, I feel we should incorporate those 150 plus players that were identified by Renard on his country-wide talent identification programme in the 10 provinces into the main Chipolopolo, otherwise it would be a sheer waste of time and resources to identify players and leave them to wither just like that.
I think it is high time FAZ also considered decentralising its operations by introducing a National Football League (NFL) to make the league more competitive because in its present state the secretariat is overwhelmed with responsibilities.
It would be wise for FAZ to emulate the English system of operating the NFL for instance which consists of a pyramid of leagues, bound together by the principle of promotion and relegation.
A certain number of the most successful clubs in each league can rise to a higher league, whilst those that finish at the bottom of their league can find themselves sinking down a level.
I am sure FAZ know this system very well.
It just needs implementation and all this talent identification process will be incorporated in the pyramid structure form so that it would be easy to monitor even the raw talent that was identified and also as a way of identifying new players in the process because every league system will be active and come 2015 we’ll have players and reserve teams in all age-group teams including the national team.
Finally, Zambia is going to play five-time world football champions – Brazil – yeah!!!
I hope it won’t be like the case of Tahiti at the Confederations Cup.
This is a high-profile friendly, reminiscent of a competitive FIFA tournament because of the intensity of the team we are going to play against, hence the need to round up the strongest possible squad… that will even play in future CAF/FIFA competitions