CHIPOLOPOLO striker Rainsford Kalaba has been appointed captain of the team barely three weeks before the Africa Cup of Nations (AfCON) tournament kicks off in Equatorial Guinea after defender Stoppila Sunzu relinquished the role.
The first task of the young captain begins today when he will lead the boys in an international friendly encounter with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.
Sunzu voluntarily quit and anointed Kalaba to take over from him after he was consulted on who should be his replacement and the technical bench approved his suggestion and congratulated him.
Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) spokesperson Nkweto Tembwe confirmed the development from South Africa yesterday.
Tembwe said Sunzu decided to voluntarily relinquish his captaincy so that he could concentrate on his role as defender.
When handing over the arm band to Kalaba, Sunzu thanked the football authorities in Zambia for giving him an opportunity to serve as Chipolopolo captain at a time the Chipolopolo were campaigning for the 2015 AfCON.
“Coach Honour Janza informed us that Stoppila Sunzu, who until this morning was the captain for Chipolopolo, has asked that he relinquish his position so that he can concentrate on his core role in the team which is being a defender,” he said.
“He (Sunzu) was asked on his opinion who should be given the arm band. Stophila suggested Rainsford Kalaba. As at now, the new captain for Chipolopolo is Rainsford Kalaba.”
Tembwe said Sunzu’s decision was first communicated to the senior players namely James Kamanga, Kennedy Mweene, Davies Nkausu, Nathan Sinkala and officials yesterday morning by Janza and they congratulated Kalaba.
“At the time he (Sunzu) was landing in South Africa he was a captain of Chipolopolo side and it is important to consult him in such a situation especially that he was not stripped of the captaincy. He has voluntarily relinquished saying he wants to concentrate on one role rather than having the control of leadership on the pitch,” he said.
Tembwe said by giving up the captaincy and anointing Kalaba, Sunzu had put the interest of the team above his own, adding that he was happy because he was handing over to somebody who he considers to be a leader. He said if Sunzu was troubled with public criticism to have made such a decision to step aside, he had not shown it to anyone because he appeared very happy during training session at University of Johannesburg yesterday.
He, however, said he did not believe that Sunzu was troubled with anything but indicated that he was sure that the defender meditated over the decision before making the announcement.
Tembwe said Kalaba was happy to be appointed as captain for Chipolopolo and that he would work with other players.
“Rainsford Kalaba said he was happy about having been considered,” he said. “He also said other senior players are also captains. ‘We are all captains, even if it will be me wearing the band. Everyone remains a captain in his own right’.” And Chipolopolo team doctor Joseph Kabungo said apart from Patrick Ngoma, all the players were physically and mentally fit for the AfCON encounter this month. The team doctor said Ngoma was responding well to treatment and he would be ready for training on Monday.
“He (Ngoma) has done pretty well but we are still keeping a closer eye on him. He has been doing light training. He should be okay the remaining few days,” he said. “I am happy with his response to treatment, he will be back in training on Monday. Apart from Patrick everyone is in good shape, all the guys are doing pretty well, physically, mentally. Everyone is okay. We are hoping for a better performance in tomorrow’s game.”