PRESIDENT’S CORNER: U17 Boys and Girls Run at AU Games Points to Brighter Future
This week’s football shine belongs to the Zambia under-17 boys and girls in Maseru who have both qualified to the next stage of their respective competitions. The under-17 girls have already sailed to the final where they await the winner between Botswana and Namibia. With the Covid-19 having presented hurdles to the tournament organizers, the girls’ tournament group stage was formatted to a round robin basis. The Zambian squad that has been in uncompromising mood thrashed Botswana 3-1 before beating Namibia 2-0. The result on the pitch is a manifestation of the amount of work that has gone in building women football from the grassroots. With the Women Super League in full swing, there are going to be more opportunities for girls to play competitive football in our country. We urge the team not to relax and finish off the job in the final and lift the trophy. With strong u17 and u20 sides it could only point to better days ahead. Our under-20 girls are in the race for the Costa Rica 2022 FIFA World Cup and drew 0-0 with Ghana on Saturday at Nkoloma Stadium. We are hopeful that they will be able to get the job done in Accra in a fortnight and qualify to the next round.
The under-17 boys have qualified to the semifinal where they will play Malawi on Tuesday. For the under-17 lads, this has been a project that has been grown from u15 and even tasted action at the Vlatko Markovic Eight Nation Tournament in Croatia. The Croatia games were held in September 2020 where Zambia emerged fourth despite not playing all their games due to Covid-19. The boys qualified to the cancelled under-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco that was supposed to be played in March 2021. It is a team that has always been looking for an outlet to express its talent. Their run at the 2021 Cosafa games is not surprising. What we are witnessing is a result of a consistent grassroots program that we are fast spreading to all the 10 provinces. With decentralization taking effect, it will be easier to capture all the promising talents in our country. It will not be long before we launch another group of promising talents like Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Edward Chilufya, Emmauel Banda, Kings Kangwa among others that blazing the trail on the global stage.
On the continental front, we extend our congratulations to Zanaco Football Club for qualifying to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup. We urge them to work hard as they are the remaining flag carrier for our country. To Red Arrows, we can only say tough luck and implore the team to build on the CAF experience in future assignments.