Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya says Zambia’s top seeding ahead of next week’s draws for the 2013 Cup of African Nations is a manifestation of the Chipolopolo’s hard work.
Kalusha said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that it has not come as a surprise for Zambia to be among seeded teams in Africa because the team has been working hard.
He said it is the first time that the Chipolopolo have been seeded in an Africa Cup draw and urged Zambians to be proud of their national team.
He said qualifying for the Africa Cup is not an easy task as some of the teams that are considered to be giants in Africa have failed to make it.
“First and foremost, I must say congratulations to the boys for qualifying for the Africa Cup. I think we are now respected as a strong team in Africa and as champions I think we deserve to be seeded top,” he said.
He thanked all Zambians for the support they have continued rendering to the team in its endeavour to reach the highest levels in football.
“I know last Saturday’s game against Uganda was tough and some of the people called me to say that they almost suffered heart attacks,” Kalusha joked.
“But that’s football we have to be strong as champions. Every team will work hard to try and beat us. What is important at the end of the day is that the team remained focused and we managed to qualify,” he said.
Kalusha said Zambia will be a team to beat in South Africa and the Chipolopolo will prepare adequately for the tournament.
The FAZ chief said all the teams including those that have been put in lower pots are strong and only hard work will see Zambia defend the title.
“If you look at the teams that have been put in Pot two, they are also strong. It has Mali, Tunisia, Angola and Nigeria all these are strong teams including those in pots three and four but I think one can only hope that we get a good grouping next week.
“Football being what it is today there are no underdogs and all the teams that have qualified are strong but as African champions, we cannot be scared of any team we have to be ready to face any challenge,” he said.
Kalusha said the association will ensure the team is well prepared before travelling to South Africa to defend the continental trophy.
“The coach Herve Renard has already submitted the training programme for the team but it will need to be approved though I think there will be no problems with training for the team,” he said.
And soccer fans are proud that Zambia has been recognised as one of the strongest teams on the continent.
Zambia Voluntary Soccer Fans Association patron Peter Makembo said seeding Zambia among the likes of Ivory Coast and Ghana means the Chipolopolo have reclaimed their status as a soccer powerhouse in Africa.
Makembo said Zambia should now work hard to maintain the new status.
Chipolopolo Soccer Fans Association chairperson chairpersonYotam Mwanza called for hard work among the players to ensure Zambia defends the title in South Africa.
Mwanza praised the Kalusha-led FAZ executive for putting Zambian soccer back on track.
Pot one: South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Ivory Coast
Pot two: Mali, Tunisia, Angola and Nigeria
Pot three: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Niger
Pot four: Togo, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.