On www.zambianfootball.net, a blogger called Whisper had mentioned the best formation the Zambia Under 20 was supposed to use and I even agreed with him about it.
At 1:38 pm, October 10th, 2008, Whisper, on the story, ‘Galactico’ Fwayo joins U/20 Camp, commented and said:
“… I am worried that we might get overwhelmed using a 4-3-3 formation. The Egyptians are masters at counter attacking and with 4 very offensive minded players (Fwayo, Bomber, Thierry and Kola) our backline might be too exposed. In a 4-3-3 the midfield is very narrow and you have to rely on the the guys upfront dropping back and helping out. If they don’t then our fullbacks might be facing 2 vs 1 situations all afternoon.”
“I like the idea of Justin and Stophira anchoring the midfield . . .”
At 7:25 pm, October 10th, 2008 I responded and said
“Whisper, that is a great analysis and I am with you all the way.”
Admin also did report that the technical bench led by Herve Renard and Oswald Mutapa Jr is believed to have made three changes from the team which held the Young Pharaohs of Egypt 3-3 on their own turf . . .
These two posts by Whisper and Admin just sum up everything. This is where it all went wrong and let me offer my opinion but you can always shoot me down.
1. Zambia U20 has a weak defence and its strength is in attack and so to depend on a defending strategy was myopic by the coaches. We were better off relying on our attackers to get us the all important goal than hope for the defence to hold water all afternoon. “Attack being the best way to defend” was not in Renard’s book.
2. Making three unforced changes to a team I would call winning side (seeing that 3-3 in Cairo is almost a win) was unstrategic because it changed the balance of the team and also demanded a different approach. I know that mayuka, Kola and Fwayo are all vital players but the long and short of it is that the players who got us here and especially those who played in cairo should have started with the likes of Mayuka and Lungu wh missed should have been trampcards to
come in and change things at a later stage. Stick to a stable team and avoid shuffling the pack
3. Talking of shuffling the pack, what was Sunzu doing playing at the back? This was too decisive a match to experiment.
4. Did the word “possession” mean nothing to the coaching bench? Are you supposed to defend nby hitting the balls hard and into your opponents half and giving them a chance to build up everytime? We wind time by holding onto the ball, making lateral passes and getting free-kicks and not giving away free-kicks.
5. What kind of midfield cannot tackle? Midfileders were ‘escorting the Egyptians’ and only using their shoulders to try and muscle the ball away. Just tackle and get the ball clean especially when it is still far from the 18-yard area.
6. Whisper predicting of using 3 strikers and 3 midfielders was spot on. Zambia was overwhelmed in the midfield. We should have played two strikers and then bring on ne later in the game. Substituting Kola and Mayuka shows that the coach got it wrong in the first place and was trying to do what he should have done in the first place which Whisper and I were suggesting. We should have packed the midfield to avoid giving the young Pharoahs any initiative.
7. The technical bench was comfortably sitting on the bench even when things were going badly towards the end of the match. The keeper had kept Zambia in the match at one point he saved when faced with a striker who had beated the whole defence and was just pulling the trigger to beat the keeper. Luckily that shot was straight into the palms of the Keeper and by saying so I am not demeaning the work he did which was really tremendous.
8. Was Mayuka in the right frame of mind after all the talk?
I squarely place the blame on the bench and in this case, it is Renard I blame. He should have started with the stable team and fused in the new guys no matter how good they are and he should have gone for the all important goal.
Which brings me to my final point. We made it to the Under 20 World Cup with local coaches like Chicken George but FAZ was saying this assignment is so important the local coaches needed beefing up with the frenchmen. Does they realise that football in Zambia is mostly played in Bemba and to some extent Nyanja and that the local coaches and more likely to squeeze the juice out of these players better? So now having been eliminated from the cup what does FAZ say? It was better for the local coaches to go for it and fail. At least the lessons would have been learnt and the money paid as allowances would have fed Zambian families. Now the funds have to go to France on top of our loss. Shame.
Let us give our local coaches chance. PP was being lambasted but he is the last coach to get Zambia to win by 2 goals of more. South 3-1 and Sudan 2-0. Ever since, we either win 1-o, both cases lucky through a bolt from the blue (with all due respect to katman) and a penalty (with all due respect to katman’s elder brother Soldier or Tsunami). The rest of the results are draws or losses. PP is now showing how good he is with a small team like Nkana (not small in stature seeing it is the most supported team in Zed like Celtic in RSA but small in terms of team and calibre of players). But I don’t want PP back at national coach. Let Renard continue but local coaches should handle the junior teams.
God bless Zambia.