Former African champions, Zambia, were expected to arrive back in the country last evening to a quiet reception from a few diehard supporters following their early exit from the 2013 AFCON tournament in South Africa. The 2012 African soccer kings failed to follow their road map and only managed three points from as many games to finish third in Group C behind Burkina Faso and Nigeria who progressed to the last eight of the competition.
However England based striker Emmanuel Mayuka was not expected to be on the flight as he had already flown directly to England to join up with his squad at Southampton where he hopes to push for a permanent place under the new manager.
Towering defender Stophila Sunzu wwas also expected to have flown straight to England where his agent was making frantic final minute efforts to have Reading complete the move before the transfer deadline which closed at midnight.
Reading manager Brian McDermott on Wednesday announced that Sunzu’s deal would not be complete ‘at least not during this transfer window’ but sources said last minute efforts were being worked out to ensure the fruition of the long awaited move for the talented defender.
The low key entry expected from the Chipolopolo Boys compared to the thunderous welcome they received 12 months ago when they overcame all odds to lift the continental cup is a terse reaction from the fans who have been let down by the team’s poor performance at the 2013 AFCON.
The team which was expected to defend the title has now turned its focus on qualifying to the Brazil 2014 World Cup with Coach Herve Renard maintaining that he has a crop of players who were committed to ensuring that the former African champions join the World’s biggest football jamboree.
Zambia, with six points to her credit in the World Cup qualifiers after beating Ghana 1-0 and another FIFA awarded win over Sudan, resume their campaign in March against Lesotho in Maseru.
“We have games against Lesotho, Ghana in Accra and Sudan here in Zambia and we hope to work hard to get the maximum points to ensure passage to the next stage of the qualifying series” he said.