Former Chipolopolo striker Christopher Katongo says it is unfortunate that the national soccer team is struggling to qualify for next year’s AfCON.

The 2012 BBC African footballer of the year who captained the squad to the first ever Championship victory for Zambia that year, noted that the current national team squad was too good and youthful to struggle to get out of the group stages of the qualifiers.

In an interview with Goal Diggers! Katongo who is also an assistant coach for Green Buffaloes football club (GBFC) said Zambia had a big name in football in Southern Africa, adding that there was need to keep growing the name.

“It is quite unfortunate that we are struggling to qualify for AfCON looking at the calibre of players we have in the squad. It is a mixture of youthfulness and experience. Most of them play for big clubs so we should have had it the easy way. Let us struggle when we are in the tournament not the group stages of qualifying,” Katongo said.

The 2012 AFCON winning skipper also appealed to the players to maintain high spirits and morale ahead of the Namibian encounter at home, as well as the Mozambique away game.

“Our players should not beat themselves as there is no guarantee that a particular team should win. They all train and play for victory so it cannot always be easy. Just keep yourselves in high spirits and morale; fans are still rallying behind you. We still have great confidence in the team and the coach,” said Katongo.

Meanwhile, FAZ president Andrew Kamanga demanded a win against Namibia next month.

“They should settle for nothing else but a win. We will have a bigger crowd and they know very well that fans are thirsty for a win. It can be a very disappointing thing failing to qualify looking at the squad managed by an expatriate coach. I personally await a win come next month,” demanded Kamanga.