PRESIDENT’S CORNER: 2021-2022 SEASON PROMISES MORE FIREWORKS

The 2021/2022 season is finally upon us, and we had quite some titanic match ups on match day one. It was quite refreshing to see some super league football return to Konkola Stadium when Konkola Blades hosted Power Dynamos in Chililabombwe. Konkola Stadium in yester-years was a home of the Chipolopolo during FIFA and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. It gives us hope that with a little effort we could broaden the number of stadia where we can host international matches. We also saw Kafue Celtic and Chambishi who freshly graduated from the Eden University National Division One square off at Edwin Imboela Stadium. We can delve into all fixtures but will leave it here. There is every indication that the 2021/2022 season will even be greater than the just ended season. The sustained top ranking of our league by CAF gives us pride and inspires us to do even more. The MTN Super League is ranked seventh in Africa and entitles us to four slots in CAF competitions. Our four representatives in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup did not disappoint in first leg encounters with two winning (Zanaco and Red Arrows), while Kabwe Warriors drew away with Zesco United edged out in Eswatini. With second leg matches coming up this weekend, we have no doubt that our teams will triumph.

Despite the economic damage that the Covid-19 has done across the societal spectrum we are grateful that our sponsors have remained on board, most notably MTN, Supersport, Eden University, Topstar, ZNBC, Toyota Zambia and California Beverages. We expect that as the Covid-19 pandemic subsides more sponsors will come on board to support the game.

On the pitch, we are keeping a close eye on the Covid-19 incidents in our country. We are working closely with the Ministry of Health to explore the possibility of spectators returning to stadia. FAZ already has a working relationship with the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) to handle the Covid-19 protocols for the league. The guidelines have been availed to the membership and key stakeholders to ensure that football is above board in observing the Covid-19 guidelines. We urge our members not to relent in observing the Covid-19 guidelines even as the numbers are going down. We suffered a great injustice during the FIFA Window for qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup as we could not have two of our best players available for home match against Tunisia. We missed the services of Patson Daka (Leicester) and Enock Mwepu (Brighton & Hove Albion). Our prayer is that the reduced numbers of Covid-19 incidences will improve our country’s grading from a red zone to either amber or green. Our expectation is that the next window in October would present a better grading that will allow our country to have our best possible team fielded when we play Equatorial Guinea on October 6 away and home four days later. As FAZ, we will not relent in preparing the team adequately as we did for the previous rounds. We will organize another international camp for the Chipolopolo ahead of the Equatorial Guinea clashes. Our chase for a debut FIFA World Cup appearance is still on and we will give it our best shot.

Finally, we welcome the new ministry of youth and sports honourable Elvis Nkandu. We look forward to a progressive working relationship and expect to call on him soon.

Have a pleasant week and remember to observe the Covid-19 guidelines!

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