FAZ president Andrew Kamanga has lost his bid for election as Executive Committee member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). In reaction to this news, many football lovers celebrated. It was as if they prayed that he should lose so that they shame him, and their wish was granted.
“He has been taught a lesson,” one fan posted on Facebook as many followers agreed. “If he left it for Kalusha [Bwalya], Zambia would have won, but Andrew’s selfishness has earned him the most humiliating lesson,” tweeted another, much to the delight of the soccer legend’s lovers.
Both sentiments above may be justified depending on how much factual information one has regarding the matter, but we noticed that baseless arguments were made back and forth, creating room for tribalists to jump on the bandwagon and weigh in. This bickering went as far as State House, and from what we are told it was his involvement in the FAZ wrangles which cost Moses Mawere his job.
Fortunately, we are not in a position to agree or disagree with those who say, for denying a better candidate a chance, Kamanga was taught a lesson; because it is also possible that Kalusha himself would have lost if he stood for re-election. And then the Kamanga camp would have said the same thing.
But there are things which we feel president Kamanga can do to change his fate at the helm of the Football Association of Zambia. This opinion is not about who was the right or wrong contender of the CAF position, we just wish to deliver our candid advice to the man driving the soccer agenda at this point in Zambia.
Dear Mr Kamanga, where soccer is concerned here in Zambia or abroad, you are almost a nobody compared to your predecessor. Kalusha Bwalya is no longer just a soccer legend, he is a brand. Even those who never watched him play want to take pictures with him. There is almost nothing anyone can do to destroy this brand. Absolutely nothing.
He is also an extremely likeable person to those who love football. His fundamentalists go to extremes to defend him. To them, “Great Kalu” is always right, no matter how wrong he is.
This is not what we are saying here. We are not saying Kalusha is a clean man or better human being. If anything, we are saying the opposite. There are many wrong things that Kalusha has done apart from missing a penalty in that COSAFA Castle Cup final against Angola in 2004. This is a corrupt man who has admitted to his corruption by paying an admission of guilty fee to FIFA.
Our point is that this man called Kalusha has done his part in football. He is the only player in Southern African to have been crowned CAF African Footballer of the Year in 1988. He is the first FAZ president to win the Africa Cup of Nations. He may not have won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player. He may not have won it as a coach, but the glory of wining it as the first and only Zambian FA president so far caps his involvement in football. These accolades make him one of the most if not the most successful sports personalities in Zambia. The next person to achieve this honour may not event be born yet.
Kalusha is so famous that when you visit some countries, they ask you about two people. “How is Kenneth Kaunda,” when you assure them that the old man is still playing golf, the next Zambian they ask you about is Kalusha. That’s just how famous he is.
But this does not mean that he is the only one who can run the administration of football in Zambia. Many others who have the right amount of knowledge and wisdom can do it, if not better. This is where you, Mr Andrew Kamanga come in. If you stop engaging Kalusha in soccer politics and focus on the game, as you promised to donin your campaigns, you can do a lot of things for soccer lovers.
Just like those who hold political office in government, Mr Kamanga must know that those who are governed have the right to hold their leaders accountable. It is within their right to make all the noise they want especially where leaders are failing. This should not distract a leader, instead it should keep them alert and committed to doing the right thing.
If Mr Kamanga spends more time responding to Kalusha Bwalya’s distractive tactics or chasing after his distractive tactics, or fighting Simataa Simataa in court, he will soon realize that his time in office is over without anything to point at as his success story.
At this stage, Mr Kamanga must be worried about the legacy that he will leave at FAZ. The future will not judge his performance based on how he sorted out Kalusha or how he fixed a talkative soccer administrator, it will be by the number of trophies Chipolopolo and its subordinate squads brought home.
Please, Mr Kamanga, develop a thick skin. It doesn’t matter who de-campaigned you at the elective CAF meeting, if there was ever such a thing. It doesn’t matter how many people are fighting your administration. Let them insult you while you push the soccer agenda ahead. Doesn’t it hurt to hear fans complain that under your charge, they have been denied a chance to watch their national team at the Africa Cup finals twice in a row?
As you, Mr Kamanga, were busy contesting CAF and running from court room to courtroom, the Algerians were busy tormenting other teams to win the continental trophy. Are you seeing the difference in approach that we are seeing?
Make no mistake. These Zambians know that we beat Algeria very recently and it was back-to-back. We doubt they’ll accept defeat in the next meeting as we battle to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup. So, if you will be at FAZ, be ready to endure that phase because we know Algeria is beatable. Failure to beat them will be recipe for your exit, even if they are African champions.
So instead of expending your energies on things unrelated to helping our football, Mr Kamanga, please refocus. By now we should know what is happening to the substantive Chipolopolo coach because bringing a coach a month or two before qualifiers start is not a good way to start the series.
If you can, Mr Kamanga, please learn from your CAF defeat and concentrate your energies on finding a coach who will take Zambia to the next edition of the African Cup of Nations. It will be a lot more productive, Sir. Mwasebanya pafula.