CHAN Squad safe in Cameroon

Dear members of the football family. I am back this week for another important interaction with you. Sadly, we have lost too many people so early in the year. The football family has lost a distinguished administrator in former Referees Association of Zambia (RAZ) president Joseph Nkole. The late Nkole also served as FAZ executive committee member from 2004-2008 and was offering himself as a candidate for the presidency. I can only say rest in peace brother and colleague.

Back to wider football matters, the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the country has once again seen the Ministry of Health impose a ban on spectators at stadia. The country has been recording increased numbers of Covid-19 daily that amount to over 1, 000 per day in the last few weeks. Clearly, football cannot turn a blin eye to these frightening statistics. Almost everyone has lost someone very close due to the Covid-19 pandemic that puts to bed all the doubts that have been thrown around about the authenticity of the crisis. We have taken steps to ensure that we manage the situation responsibly. Our recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) speaks to the seriousness we attach to mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 on the game. The ZMA will oversee testing protocols across all our leagues and provide counsel on all Covid-19 situations. We urge all our members to across the country to adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health in combating the Covid-19. Our plea is also to fans to respect the ban of spectators at stadia. In a small way the beaming of some games on television through our broadcast partners will help fans enjoy some action from the comfort of their homes.

The African Nations Championship (CHAN) team has continued to prepare for the tournament in Cameroon. The team has moved closer to Limbe in a bid to acclimatize to the humid conditions expected at their tournament venue. We have been made aware of safety concerns in Limbe arising from some on-going historical conflict in the host country. We have made inquiries with the relevant authorities both in Cameroon and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and have been guaranteed of safety during the tournament. The team’s stay in Cameroon from December 31, 2020 has been without incident. Zambia has now shifted base to Douala where they will play one final international friendly match with Libya on Wednesday at Japoma Stadium before heading to Limbe. Zambia will start its CHAN assignment on January 19, 2021 against Tanzania before facing Guinea four days later. The final group match will be against Namibia on January 27. We urge all the Zambians to rally behind the team as they fly our flag at the tournament. With the preparations the team has had, we have no doubt that they will do our country proud.

Have a fruitful week and remember to stay safe!

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