Dear football family. It is that time of the week for our traditional interaction. Last week I was in Brighton to check on our hitherto Chipolopolo captain Enock Mwepu in the company of FIFA Director in charge of Africa Member Associations Gelson Fernandez. It was an emotional moment for all of us, especially coming a month after Mwepu was diagnosed with a hereditary cardiac condition that halted his promising career.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino penned a personal letter to Mwepu that was delivered by Fernandez on behalf of Zurich. We cannot thank FIFA enough for having shown great concern for the welfare of Mwepu whose case has drawn interest from across the globe. We also are grateful to the support the player is receiving from his club Brighton. For now, Mwepu has been given some space with his family and health experts to overcome the suddenness of the tragedy that befell one of the most promising talents of our nation. Our desire and commitment are to ensure that the ‘Computer’ reboots and soldiers on in whatever path he will choose.
On the other side of the beautiful game, our under-17 boys and girls learnt of their opponents at the 2022 Region V games that kick-off at the month end in Malawi.
The under-17 boys tournament will serve as an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier making it even more significant for us. With the under-20 already qualified to the AFCON and the U23 on course, we will be looking to add this team to that list. We are confident that with a good crop of players having tested some quality matches at under-15 in Georgia, it will put the squad in good stead to compete for a place at the AFCON. For our girls that won the Cosafa tournament last year in Maseru, we are confident that they will be motivated to repeat that feat this year.
Finally, the search for the Chipolopolo coach is underway with over 100 applications received. The specially constituted committee to select the coach commences sitting today (Monday) comprising representation from FAZ, government and ZAFCA. The committee is expected to come up with a shortlist of candidates according to the criterion publicly provided. While the debate on whether FAZ should hire a local or foreign coach has persisted, it should be made clear that the focus should on appointing a competent coach regardless of their nationality. We are mindful of the urgency of this matter, but we will also ensure that we are prudent in the manner we conduct this process. Transparency will be our guiding principle throughout the process.
We also urge the fans to support our national teams that will be fully engaged during the FIFA window with the world cup bound Copper Queens facing Colombia in Cali while the Chipolopolo will play Israel as part preparations for the teams’ international engagements next year.
Have a productive week.
FAZ PRESIDENT’S CORNER: