GOVERNMENT has warned the senior national soccer teams that Zambians will not accept any excuse for an early exit at the Rwanda 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled for January 16 to February 7.
Sports minister Vincent Mwale said the technical bench and players should up their acts and make sure that the disastrous performance Zambians were subjected to at this year’s tournaments were not repeated next year.
This warning comes in light of the U-23 national team’s failure to win a single game at the on-going Senegal Africa Championship and bring the Rio 2016 dream alive.
The U-23 were first to be booted out and lost their last group game to hosts Senegal by a lone goal on Friday.
Mwale said the technical bench needed to sit down and discuss the way forward that would bring positive results.
“I am sure they have learnt lessons and there won’t be any need for other lessons. The semi-finals are the least Zambia should go at the CHAN tournament. We will send a senior team; definitely there will be subtractions and additions to the team. The team will have the likes of striker Winston Kalengo and other brilliant players.
“Zambians will not accept excuses. We have heard many excuses this year and will not accept more, come 2016,” he said.
He however said they are consoled by the senior team’s performance in the Africa Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
He said the players should target qualification to the Russia 2018 World Cup
Zambia is in group D of the CHAN championship alongside regional rivals Zimbabwe, Mali and Uganda.
Meanwhile, Simukonda described the game of football as cruel after the team lost 1-0 to Senegal.
“We told ourselves that the last game was going to be our consolation game but we have lost . Losing all the games at the tournament is unfortunate. But like I always say, football can be very cruel. We played so well but we conceded another silly goal.
“But it is not the end of the road. The players we have now are the future of the Zambia national football team,” he said.
Defender Kayawe Kapota will be out of action for three months after suffering a fracture on his left leg at the tournament. Team doctor Mwila Lupasha confirmed from Dakar that Kayawe will be off the pitch for 12 weeks after being treated at Principal Military Hospital.
“Kayawe got injured in the 67th minute of the match against Senegal. He sustained a fracture of the lower part of his left leg bone (fibula),” Lupasha said.
The Nkana defender sustained the injury after he challenged for the ball with Senegalese striker Mahamadou Diallo.
Zambia finished bottom of group A on zero points scoring only three goals. They suffered defeat to Tunisia 2-1, South Africa 3-2 and 1-0 to Seengal.