Opinion

Opinion: Kamanga – An Alleged ‘Failure’ Destined For Football Success

 

They touted him to sonta epo wabomba [show us your work]. By November last year – eight months in office as FAZ president – the closest he could come to was Computickets. Computickets was a fulfilment of his campaign pledge to restore transparency and accountability into the management of gate takings.

Sadly, they saw nothing in it. Reason being they could no longer pilfer public resources carelesslelly. They wanted results on the pitch. They accused him of failing to inspire Zambia to appear at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, a qualification that was lost 72 hours after he became president. Can you blame him? No. But they said he was a failure, that is why Zambia was not in Gabon.

Today as Andrew Ndanga Kamanga clocks one year in office, they have all scampered; they are ashamed. Nothing to say. But being the meek, cool and calm person he is, he keeps inviting them to his table. They are unashamedly still plotting to impeach him.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this the man moulding a winning team? Who changes a winning coach? The football theory repudiates such thinking.

Popular blogger, FAZ councillor and a fervent advoacte of transparency and accountability in Zambian football MUSONDA CHIBULU could not have put it any better.

HERE IS MUSONDA CHIBULU’S REFLECTION OF ANDREW NDANGA KAMANGA’S ONE YEAR AT THE HELM OF ZAMBIAN FOOTBALL

It came as a shock to the world as Andrew Kamanga became boss of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) at the expense of then incumbent Kalusha Bwalya.

Around this time anxiety gripped the Zambian football fraternity on March 19, 2016.

The executive committee members came from the Bwalya camp.

The successful businessman’s camp was worried as the vice-presidency was scooped again by the opposite camp.

It looked like a toll order for Kamanga. Then after midnight, FAZ Legal Committee Chairman Sukwana Lukangaba dropped a bombsell.

“Cool” Kamanga had defeated the Great Kalu.

Kamanga’s reign started off shakily as his choice of General Secretary Sims Simataa was rejected by the executive.

In came Ponga Liwewe deputised by Lombe Mbalashi.

Zambia failed to qualify to Gabon 2017 and suffered a shock COSAFA Cup exit. His detractors went to town. “We told you he was a failed administrator,” they cried excitedly.

Prior to the failure to qualify there was the unsavoury travel by ferry incident in West Africa.

To add salt to the injury, the Zambia Under-17 national team under Osward Mutapa was booted out of the COSAFA Under-17 Youth Championship on account of alleged age-cheating.

Boy! The frenzy that greeted that news was like Zambia had qualified to the World Cup among his enemies.

“This failure shall take us nowhere,” was the chorus of the funeral, if not celebratory, dirge.

The ignominy of losing the first World Cup qualifier compounded the situation.

“Under this failure Zambia has won nothing competitive,” we heard.

This was despite Kamanga and the new FAZ bringing Wedson Nyirenda to replace George Lwandamina who was allowed to concentrate on Zesco United.

United were to reach the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League losing only to eventual champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

After the Nigeria match, a ticketing sells scam led to the suspension of vice-president Richard Kazala and committee member Blackwell Siwale.

Electronic Comput-ticketing debuted against the West Africans as Kamanga sought to bring transparency and accountability in gate takings.

The takings were announced in public for the first time in many years.

Then Zambia went to Cameroon and nicked a point. It was a turning point.

Though the draw was criticised, the manner in which Nyirenda picked up a draw from a side who only months later became champions of Africa was creditable.

Then the Zambia Under-20 travelled to South Africa and won the region meet with a 100 per cent record.

This was despite heavy criticism on the team’s preparations. However, Beston Chambeshi technical advised by Nyirenda, assisted by Bilton Musonda exceeded expectations.

Kamanga’s detractors played down the success as only “COSAFA” in a rather strange and subdued tone.

Then the mother of all success in the short period came.

But like birth pangs before the birth of a first born child, it did not come like manner from heaven.

Zambia was hosting the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations. The organisation of the tournament was criticised.

Some prayed that it could fail so that the ‘failure administrator’ tag could stick on Kamanga like glue.

With incredible support from the government of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Kamanga had camped the Zambia Under-20 in Spain.

This too was criticised heavily. “No, the weather in Spain is unsuitable and all that jazz,” was sung without real instruments.

But the tournament was a resounding success as Zambia emerged champions of the continent for the first time in history before crowds never seen at junior teams’ tournaments anywhere in the world.

In fact, the cup victory was icing on the cake as the rampant and impressive Zambia Under-20 qualified to the Korea Under-20 World Cup after only two matches.

The qualification was sealed with an incredible 6-1 mauling of Mali at Heroes Stadium.

CAF stopped short of announcing Zambia as the next host of the senior Africa Cup after a well organised junior event in Lusaka and Ndola.

This was Kamanga’s defining moment as leader of FAZ.

Prior to the continental tournament, immediately after the regional tournament in Muruleng, Kamanga had been elected as an executive committee member of COSAFA.

This was a demonstration of recognition from his peers in the region of his leadership acumen.

Kamanga made a good gesture of handing his predecessor Bwalya a much cried about FIFA Council elections’ nomination letter despite COSAFA appearing to favour the nomination of sitting Football Association (FA) presidents to run for the FIFA elections.

Surprisingly, Bwalya was later to withdraw from the FIFA election race despite the nation clamouring for the 1988 African Footballer of the Year to go for it.

Now the Africa Cup triumph the country’s major achievement since the ultimate success of 2012 was Kamanga’s mother of all administrative brilliance in his short time at Football House.

During the junior Africa Cup in Zambia, some disgruntled elements wanted to disrupt the smooth flow of things by calling for Kamanga’s impeachment on flimsy grounds.

It was claimed Kamanga wanted to take away voting rights of lower division teams.

This is despite FIFA’s very public directive that Zambia reduces its Electoral College by 31st March 2017 or face an automatic ban.

This lie is still being propagated today.

Imagine Zambia being banned and missing the Korea World Cup where the Africa kings are in Group C against Portugal, Iran and Costa Rica for failure to enact a new constitutions as per FIFA requirement!

Undeterred, Kamanga has already secured a four nations invitational tournament scheduled for this week until 31st March, 2017 for the Zambia Under-20 to have a feel of Korea and the sort of opposition expected in May at the World Cup.

This is the sort of preparations the country of our magnitude has craved for and deserves to have.

Kamanga seen the Under-20 national team secure sponsorship from FNB. No junior team in this country has ever had sponsors.

In another show of previously rare sound judgement seen in football administration in this country, Kamanga and his COSAFA colleagues masterminded the change at CAF backing Madagascar man Ahmad Ahmad to oust long serving Issa Hayatou.

It has been quite some year in office for Andrew Ndanga Kamanga.

With proper support from FAZ councillors and internal unity among the executive committee members, Zambia is on a sound path to regaining its lost football glory under Kamanga.

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