ZAMBIA yesterday missed out on the opportunity of hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) awarded the rights to Cameroon.
But Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) vice-president Boniface Mwamelo says there is need for the country to be proud of the efforts made in trying to host the 2019 AFCON.
The CAF executive committee yesterday picked Cameroun as 2019 AFCON hosts ahead of Zambia, Algeria, Ivory Coast and Guinea during its general congress held in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.
It would be a Western African affair for the coming three straight AFCON finals as CAF awarded the 2021 AFCON hosting rights to Ivory Coast while Guinea will host the 2023 edition.
Speaking in an interview from Addis Abba yesterday, Mwamelo said Zambia lost on technicalities but that there should be continuous effort in working towards ensuring the realisation of the dream of hosting Africa’s master piece in the future.
Mwamelo said efforts should now be directed at hosting a memorable Africa Youth Championship in 2017.
“We are proud of the efforts and we believe there was nothing wrong with our bid. Our efforts should be directed at ensuring we deliver a memorable Africa Youth Championship in 2017.
As FAZ, we are grateful to the government for the support rendered to this bid, to the Zambians for their unwavering support to the last minute,” he said.
Mwamelo ruled out the possibility of co-hosting the 2017 AFCON finals with neighbours Zimbabwe.
“We are already committed to the Africa Youth Championship and therefore this issue of co-hosting is not something we are contemplating at the moment. Hosting the Africa Youth Championship in the same year as co-hosting an AFCON is taxing in terms of resources,” Mwamelo said.
He said there was need for the country to continue with its programme of sports infrastructure development so that in future, when an opportunity arises, especially at short notice, Zambia can be able to seize it and host.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Susan Sikaneta had on Friday made a passionate appeal to the CAF executive council to consider favourably Zambia’s bid to host the 2019 AFCON.
According to a Press statement released by Sam Mujuda at the Zambia Embassy in Addis Ababa, Sikaneta told the executive council that the Zambian government was fully behind the bid by the FAZ.
She told the executive members that Zambia had hosted many sporting events and that the COSAFA Cup was said to be one of the best organised COSAFA Senior Cup in many years.
FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya outlined why Zambia was the best to host the 2019 AFCON championship.
“We have the government support, we have a perfect location, we have a great legacy of political stability, we have world class football stadia, we are a strong football nation, we have a strong football association. Zambia is rising, One Zambia One Nation.
I stand before you here Mr president as a product of African football, I played football at the highest level, I played for Zambia for almost 18 years and was honoured to represent my country at six Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.
Kalusha said Zambia as a nation has endured a very difficult past that has denied it the ability to invest in the infrastructure required to host the AFCON.
“Under the sound management of the current government, sustained economic growth has enabled the country to invest in sport infrastructure to enable us host events of this nature. Zambia is ready, we have the ability to host this event,” Kalusha appealed to his fellow executive members, who decided to give a vote to Cameroon.
The Zambian community in Ethiopia led by the Association of Zambians in Ethiopia President Samuel Bwalya was at hand to give support to the Zambian delegation that went to make its bid presentation.
Times of Zambia