Wednesday Oct 13, 2021. 13:00
In the first of a two-part interview with Africanfootball.com, ex-Chipolopolo midfielder and 2012 AFCON winner Noah Chivuta gives a very brutal analysis on Zambia’s flopped FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign.
Chipolopolo bowed out of the Qatar race with two games to spare on October 10 following a 1-1 home draw with Equatorial Guinea that saw Zambia collect 4 points from four games and unable to overhaul Group B leaders Tunisia who have 10 points.
The ex-Kabwe Warriors, Wits and SuperSport United midfielder believes Chipolopolo does not have the quality of players to mount any serious challenge for even AFCON qualification and that the problem is very deep rooted.
“Just to be honest, I know it is really heartbreaking at the rate the results are coming. I was in Zambia recently and I was watching some local league games. I particularly watched one game between Red Arrows and Green Buffaloes that Buffaloes won 2-1,” Chivuta said from his base in South Africa.
“You know the standard of football in the Zambian league is just not on that elite level. Even the basics for some players are really difficult like they never really went through any development or something like that.
“It is a worrying factor and if I didn’t know any player in the game I watched and I was asked to choose which players I can recommend for the national team I couldn’t choose one.
“But you would find there are four or five players from the two teams who play for the national team.
“The standard of play is just a worrying factor and the same goes for the other games I watched.”
Chivuta said there is no silver bullet for Zambia’s current soccer malaises.
“So we can change as many coaches as we want, we can talk about and attack the FAZ president but this won’t change,” Chivuta said.
“Yes, the league is well run now and you shouldn’t misunderstand me on this one; by the standard of football I mean the players.
“The league is well run, there is a lot of money and the sponsorship is great but the players who are playing in the league are just not that hungry. OK, they are just not that national team material.
“From my own opinion, there are very few who can be outstanding and another thing is the core of our national team is also coming from the local league where the standards are so low and that is a worrying factor.”
Chivuta added that Zambia may have to make some difficult and painful decisions in the long-term before one can see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.
“There was an African country that had the same problems and took a break for I think two years. Maybe we need to take a break too from international football and maybe remain with only continental club football because we really need to put our house in order and then come back stronger,” Chivuta said.
“So at the moment, even if we are crying now that we didn’t qualify to the World Cup, between you and me, are these the type of players that we want to send to the World Cup? What are we going to achieve?
“OK so let’s just say if everything was given to us on a silver platter and we qualified for the World Cup, do you want to go with these kind of players we have at the moment?
“What are we going to learn there? OK, we will break one history that we have finally qualified, yes, but we will also be breaking history for the wrong reasons when we go there like maybe by the score line we are going to get beaten by or maybe not scoring a goal at the World Cup or no shots on target. We don’t want that.”
“You know the blame would go to the coaches and the FAZ and whatever but I think we should just start from the bottom, the players and the clubs.”