VETERAN football administrator Simataa Simataa says Chipolopolo skipper Christopher Katongo could have committed a serious offence which compelled coach Honour Janza to discipline him.
Simataa strongly supported Janza for dropping Katongo from the team that plays Niger today saying the coach could have taken that decision after considering factors surrounding the incident.
He said in an interview with the Daily Nation Sport in Lusaka yesterday that Janza had no option to counsel or forgive Katongo because Zambia was at a critical time to qualify to the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AfCON) tournament.
“It clearly indicates to me that there must have been a serious incident of indiscipline and I totally stand with the coach and his team for making a decision like that,” Simataa said.
Simataa said he was surprised that such a punishment was meted on Katongo who captained the Chipolopolo team which won the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AfCON) tournament in Gabon.
“What surprises me most is that the captain would be the one to whom such a decision is meted out. But in football, especially in situation of a tournament, you don’t have that privilege of counseling and giving a second, a third and or a forth warning. You only have a short time to make a decision and that decision should be decisive,” he said.
Simataa said it was a pity that the caption was the one being punished.
And Simataa advised junior Chipolopolo players to learn a lesson from Janza’s decision on Katongo and that rules governing them should apply on every one.
“In any team there are rules, and the rules apply equally across the board. Sometimes when you give a leeway or discretion or understanding to some of the ills, you amplify the situation. The lesson is simply that the rules should apply to everyone and they have applied,” he said.
He said junior players in Chipolopolo who looked up to Katongo as a leader should realize that when they were in camp they would be punished when they break the rules.
Meanwhile, Simataa said Zambia still have a chance to qualify to next year’s AfCON.
“Ideally, qualification is nice, when you are on top of the table and you are winning all the games, but that is not how it is in football.
“But at the end of the day, the most important thing is qualification, whether you qualify as leaders, as number two or the best third. The most important is qualification,” he said.
Simataa also said Janza and his technical bench has done well to incorporate fresh blood in the national team.
He said Janza should not be blamed for things which might happen to Chipolopolo because the situation the team found itself in was created during the time Patrice Beaumelle was a coach.
“There has been a lot of talk in incorporating new players which is good, but that can only be in the mid-term and long run.
“The mistakes were done earlier when we spend the whole year with the other chap (Beaumelle) who just gave up on us. That is where the mistakes were,” he said.
Simataa said he would not support anybody who might point an accusing finger at Janza if Chipolopolo found themselves in an awkward situation.