IN what seems to be a habit now, the Zambia national soccer team’s trip to Niger for the Morocco 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) qualifiers was yesterday characterized by confusion.
There was panic in the team when a South African charter plane to fly the team to Niger did not land at Kenneth Kaunda International airport at 11:30 hours as scheduled.
The situation got tense when the control tower kept on announcing different arrival times of the plane.
All the players apart from Stophilla Sunzu and the entire technical bench were at the KKIA ready to depart for Niger.
Some players were heard complaining about the lack of seriousness with the manner in which was managing football affairs in Zambia.
“We came here slightly after 08:00 hours only to be told that the plane has not yet started off from South Africa,
“Hours later some officials from government came running to announce that the trip will be at 11:30 hours but it is now 13:30hours we are still stuck at the airport,” one senior player said.
But the chartered plane finally landed at 14.00 hours and players were only allowed to board the plane after 15:00 hours before the plane took off about 16:00 hours.
This is not the first time the Chipolopolo trip has been in shambles.
Early last month another South African chartered plane delayed arrival in Zambia for the Cape Verde trip in the same tournament.
The plane only flew the players to Cape Verde 18.00 hours before the game.
On Tuesday, FAZ communications manager Nkweto Tembwe told a media briefing in Lusaka that the Chipolopolo boys would depart for Niger at 08:00hours.
He however confirmed to Daily Nation Sports in a telephone interview that the national team departed after 15:00hours.
“As you can hear for yourself I am on a plane right now with all the players. We are now starting off,” he said.
The national team are tomorrow expected to face Niger in a must win AfCON qualifiers clash.
And on Wednesday, the Chipolopolo Boys will host Niger in a return match slated for Ndola’s Levy Mwanawasa stadium.
Meanwhile, steadfast defender Stophilla Sunzu will be absent from coach Honor Janza’s squad.
Sunzu was on Wednesday excused from joining the team in Niger after he lost his sister on the Copperbelt.
Team manager Lusekelo Kamwambi confirmed that Sunzu had been excused from travelling to Niger.
Sunzu will only be available in the return match when Niger visits Zambia next week. All eyes will be on Janza’s assistant coach, Dutchman Nico Lahbom.