Kalusha Bwalya still Zambian coach
Since April 1, media reports have taken centre stage indicating that Bwalya has ditched the national team following a barrage of criticism from fans and administrators. The fans and administrators argued that the former national skipper and 1988 Africa footballer of the year had failed the nation after a dismal performance at the 2006 Africa Cup of nations. The local media reported that Bwalya had terminated his US$10,000 salary per month contract with the country’s Football Association of Zambia citing ingratitude from soccer fans. But the FAZ said there were no changes to the technical bench and that Bwalya and his deputy were still in charge. Technical committee chairperson, Henscel Chitembeya said in Lusaka on Wednesday that the team would go into camp today under the tutelage of Bwalya and Bamfuchile, allaying speculations about the coach having quit his job out of frustration. “Zambia will go into camp to prepare for the 2006 COSAFA Castle Cup competition and the elimination competition of the Africa Cup of Nations Ghana 2008 with a friendly match against Botswana in Gaborone over the weekend of May 13-14,” he said noting that the names of the players to be camped would be announced soon. Chitembeya allayed reports that Bwalya and Bamfuchile had ditched the team citing unwarranted attacks on the technical bench for the “shoddy performance” of the team at the CAN 2006 in Egypt. Zambia had during the continental finals in Egypt beaten South Africa 1-0 but lost 1-4 and 1-2 to guinea to drop out of contention. “The coaches are still the same and we have not received a formal letter of resignation from Bwalya,” said Chitembeya. “When Kalusha Bwalya announced the resignation, when did he say he would stop? As far as FAZ is concerned, he had indicated that he would not renew his contract and his contract has so far not expired.” Sports Minister, George Chulumanda expressed ignorance over reports that Bwalya had opted to leave his “lucrative job” because of unwarranted criticism from fans. “As far as we are concerned as a ministry, Kalusha is still the national team coach until he officially tenders his resignation,” he said. In a rare outburst, Bwalya announced his decision to quit as technical director last month amid pressure that holding two positions in FAZ as coach and vice president was a violation of the soccer governing body’s constitution. Announcing his resignation, Bwalya had accused his boss, Teddy Mulonga of whipping up councillors’ emotions on the controversial dual role he holds. Bwalya contract comes to an end in July. His decision to quit coincided with the National Sport Council of Zambia chairperson, Julius Sakala’s observation that allowing Bwalya to play dual roles was a breach of the FA’s constitution. However, there are mixed feelings over Bwalya’s impending departure from the team with some welcoming his decision while others including players, want him on the bench. Recently some soccer fans welcomed Bwalya’s intentions to step aside and suggested that either Bamfuchile or Danish-born Raold Poulsen replace him. Zambia Voluntary Soccer Fans and the Chipolopolo soccer fans Associations preferred Bamfuchile to Bwalya as national team trainer because of his credentials and experience. “Elevating Bamfuchile as national team coach would promote continuity in the team,” Zambia Soccer Fans Association chairperson, Peter Makembo said. Bamfuchile holds a UEFA coaching licence and is also Royal Netherlands Foundation Association (KNVB) basic level coaching instructor. Chipolopolo Soccer Fans chairperson Elijah Chisanga said Bamfuchile was capable of taking the team to higher heights if considered because of his commitment to the sport and that most players liked him. Former Ramlex coach, Manfred Kauseni demanded that Bwalya resigns and his job be advertised to allow other people to tender their credentials. National team player, Numba Mumamba urged FAZ to retain Bwalya to allow the team to blend ahead of the COSAFA and Africa Cup elimination competitions. “Kalusha is a good coach and he should be allowed to remain in charge of the team. Bringing a new coach might disturb the new team which is promising to be a formidable on the continent,” he said. Goal minder, George Kolala supported Mumamba. He said Bwalya needed time to reconstitute a team that would rekindle Zambia’s reputation as Africa’s giant killer. “Kalusha has organised a team comprising young and old players and they are blending very well but if he is forced to leave, the new coach would take time to prepare the team psychologically and physically,” he said. In the Africa Cup qualifier, Zambia is in Group 11 with Chad, South Africa and Congo Brazzaville. Some players had no kind words for Bwalya considering that he had sidelined several players, now plying their trade in South Africa and other parts of Europe.