Afcon 2017: There is hope yet for Zambia
Lusaka – Zambia will continue bidding to host the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) despite the recent setback, after losing out to Cameroon for the 2019 hosting rights, with football authority arguing that the country is capable of staging the continental football showpiece that it won in 2012.
The president of Football Association of Zambia, Kalusha Bwalya, says despite the setback, the country will come back with a better bid to host the Afcon in future after failing to secure the event billed for 2019.
The Confederation of African Football on September 20 awarded Cameroon the rights to host the 2019 Africa Cup, the same year that Zambia had bid for. However, Kalusha says the failure is a lesson for the country and promised to be better contenders in future.
“We lost the bid but that won’t deter us from other things we are doing. It is disappointing but they are lessons learnt from this whole process. The next time we come back to bid for anything of any kind, we will come as better contenders,” Bwalya said.
Bwalya was, however, graceful despite missing out on the chance to host the Afcon and Zambia has to wait for another 10 years before getting another chance to bid.
“We had the intention of getting 2019 but it was awarded to Cameroon. As Zambia, we were up against the big boys and the results are now seen that having hosted an Afcon before always plays a major role,” Bwalya said.
The decision to award the 2021 and 2023 tournaments to Ivory Coast and Guinea, respectively, has not been well received by most soccer fans in Zambia as they feel CAF had turned a blind eye to the Southern African region.
And when asked if Zambia would bid for the upcoming 2017 edition, Bwalya said: “To be honest we are time barred and that is something we cannot do. Only countries that have ever hosted an Afcon before are the ones asked to do it.”
Zimbabwe had proposed that Zambia bid for the 2017 Africa Cup as co-hosts but the government and FAZ were concentrating on 2019. Libya withdrew from hosting the 2017 Africa Cup.
However, Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili says the failure to secure the 2019 bid has not discouraged Zambia and was determined to consider bidding for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Kambwili said Zambia will give it a try for the 2017 edition. Asked if Government will consider a joint bid with Zimbabwe for the 2017 edition, Kambwili said Zambia will go it alone. “We have the infrastructure and everything. There is no reason we should go into a joint bid with Zimbabwe,” he told local media.
Government has embarked on vigorous construction of sports facilities and the country can manage to stage the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The minister was disappointed that CAF opted to give the 2019 edition to Cameroon instead of Zambia which he claimed had better facilities than the West African country.
“Our bid was one of the best. I can’t understand why we lost. They need to be fair when making these decisions,” he said.
He is however hopeful that Zambia will be given the rights to host the 2017 edition.
Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, among others, are targeting to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations after Libya withdrew due to turmoil in the North African country. CAF has set September 30 as the deadline for receiving nomination for the 2017 edition.
Acting President Edgar Lungu said the country will follow the Confederation of African Football (CAF)’s decision to award Cameroon the right to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
“We just have to live and let live,” said Lungu while the Zambia Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo challenged CAF to inform Zambia where the country went wrong in its bidding.