Following Zambia’s surprise 2-nil home loss to Algeria in a World Cup qualifier, Zambia Football Association (FAZ) President Kalusha Bwalya said his country has learned the hard way and will not talk much in future before a crunch match.
“We blew it. We were talking too much and placing ourselves in a comfort zone. Now its back to the drawing board,” said Bwalya, in an interview with The Southern Times.
The Faz boss said Zambia will map the way forward towards the end of July to try and revive the fortunes of Chipolopolo making it to its first World Cup appearance.
“We are now waiting for the coach (Harve Renard) to return from holiday in Europe. He will be away until late July where upon his return we will sit down and discuss how Zambia will try to come back into World Cup contention because we blew it in Lusaka. We are not supposed to lose at home and we never lose at home,” said an equally dejected Bwalya.
Algeria now lead Group C with seven points, Zambia has four while Egypt and Rwanda both have a game in hand and have a point apiece. The two play today, Sunday July 5.
Kalusha refused to confirm whether Renard, before his departure for Europe, had already advised FAZ to set-up a camping base in one of the North African countries ahead of their next qualifying game on September 5 against Zambia.
“We have not made anything official because we did not sit for a meeting ever since that loss in the first round. I soon left for South Africa to attend the Confederations Cup while Renard left for his European holiday after our June 6 loss, so I cannot give any details of our plans. It’s better to wait than pre-empt plans which in most cases work in our opponent’s favour. That is one lesson we have learnt,” said Bwalya.
Before the Algeria game, both Zambia and the visitors camped in South Africa. Zambia beat Rwanda 0-1 on June 6, after camping in South Africa as well.
According to Bwalya, the death of a close family friend of Zambia’s star players Chris and Felix Katongo also played a role in the defeat as the two were psychologically at their weakest points against Algeria.
“It’s very rare in Zambia that a captain (Chris) is substituted. Captains have a significant stature in Zambian football, the removal of Chris showed how bad things were for him,” said Bwalya.
Felix and Christopher Katongo lost a “close family friend” Benson Banda who veered off the road and crashed in Felix’s Mitsubishi Pajero, killing three other people.
“Felix only leant of it hours before the game from other players in camp, Chris (the elder brother) says he had been informed of the death a day before and he must have been traumatised trying to keep a secret from his brother the whole time at the same time trying to be a captain of the team,” said Bwalya.
The accident had happened two nights before the Algeria match as Banda was driving to Chililabombwe where the match was taking place.