Disaster Looms For Zambia As Poor Preps Mar Under-20 AfCON; Opening Fixture Unknown

Caf ad 2Preparations by Zambia’s Football Association to host the Under 20 Africa Cup of Nations are reportedly in disarray with logistical arrangements way behind schedule.

With about 41 days before the country hosts its first major continental event, the opening fixture is still a state secret. How? Sources says the opening programme has not been designed and there is nothing in the pipeline suggesting the programme will be ready soon.

The sources have disclosed that team hotels, media accommodation, transportation, catering services and training venues are yet to be attended to. There are fears Zambia may suffer severe embarrassment as no proper preparations have been outlined.

It’s against this background that we agree with the concerns raised by Chewe Bowa who recently lamented the lack of seriousness by FAZ towards the hosting of the Under-20 tournament.

Bowa was shocked that FAZ general secretary Ponga Liwewe has travelled to Gabon for the Africa Cup and is expected to be out for a whole month when the country was behind schedule preparing to host a continental event.

We are short of words at Bowa’s revelations. Whatever Liwewe is doing in Gabon is not as important as Zambia hosting the Africa Cup for the Under 20. The Africa Cup in Gabon will end around February 10, two weeks before the Under-20 tournament in Zambia. How could Liwewe have gone on what we strongly believe is a sightseeing mission in Gabon instead of being at the centre of organizing the hosting of an important event in his country? Is Liwewe capable of running the FAZ secretariat? We are beginning to strongly doubt Liwewe’s capacity to manage football affairs.

President Edgar Lungu seems to have attached great importance to Zambian football but those responsible for the management of the game are seemingly approaching business casually and with a care free attitude. As general secretary, Liwewe is the engine of FAZ but his approach has been pathetic to say the least.

How can FAZ explain the lack of adverts for the tournament. There are numerous complaints from various sectors about the lack of ambience ahead of the tournament. How can Zambia fail to create an atmosphere that suggests we are a country hosting a mini Africa Cup?

It’s a shame FAZ can’t even help soccer fans plan for the tournament. Maybe they will be happy with empty stadia in Ndola and Lusaka. It will probably make them proud. While the two groups are known, no one knows who is playing who and when. Is this how people run football?

It’s not possible that soccer fans will watch all the games but by availing them fixtures, they are able to plan well in advance and also apportion resources for a specific assignment. Or maybe FAZ will grant free entry to all matches? FAZ has todate still not announced the official kit supplier for Zambia or who will dress the team during the tournament yet Mr Liwewe has the luxury of going to Gabon for a month. What kind of joke is this?

We urge sports minister Moses Mawere to take keen interest in the way things are moving at FAZ. The manner the event is being organized is not only shambolic, but has the potential to throw the image of our country into pitiful sight. Spending over K40 million on a poorly organized tournament is not prudent management. FAZ must wake up and show some sense of responsibility. Otherwise, we are headed for disaster next month.

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