FAZ president Andrew Kamanga says he looks forward to a time when the presidency takes a backseat in the Zambian game while footballers bask in the limelight.
And Kamanga says FAZ has recruited a very ambitious and qualified coach in Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic who is expected to build a formidable Chipolopolo side that will take Zambia to the top of the continent.
Featuring on CAMNET TV’s National Matters program anchored by Pastor Moses Chiluba on Monday night, Kamanga said it was regrettable that administrators had taken the front seat in football and not players.
The FAZ boss said the Zambian game had become too focussed on administrators than the players who were the lifeblood of the game.
“We look forward to a day when the position of FAZ president will be less contentious and quieter and people will just look at it as an office job rather than being in the newspaper every day,” he said.
“We should be talking about Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala and Enock Mwepu who are the stars because they are the ones who are associated with football.”
He added: “We have to slowly put this position in the background, maybe if we do that even the so called wrangles will come to an end because it will no longer be attractive. It is not really about a popularity contest.”
The FAZ president said his administration had gone back to the basics to reboot Zambian football starting with the grassroots.
“When we came in we realized that the problem we were facing needed a different approach. If you are going to build a house, you do not put the roof first, you have to concentrate on the foundation and this is where we started from,” he said.
“We said let us go to the basics and start with u17, u20. In 2016 we went to the under-17 cosafa tournament in Mauritius. We were disqualified and the reason was age cheating. I am being honest, these are things that we always gloss over.”
“Then we said at under-20 we had a good team, they won Cosafa in 2016, in 2017 we were hosting the Africa Cup. We prepared the team adequately, sent them to Spain and they came back played some of the best football we had seen in a long time and they won the cup. The same team qualified to the World Cup at under-20 and we sent them to Spain for preparations and they finished in the top eight for the first time.”
Kamanga said the grassroots shake-up spread to all youth teams from women and men with some success recorded in 2019 where the country reaped three trophies out of six continental tournaments and played in two finals.
“In 2019 in the region we participated in six cosafa tournaments and we played in six of the finals. We took away the trophy in the u17, u20 and men’s senior and the senior women we were second and u20 women we were second and u17 we were third,” he said.
Kamanga said the legion of local stars lifted the cosafa trophy and also qualified to the Cameroon 2020 Chan tournament for the second consecutive time.
“It means now our backbone is very strong and going forward this year we brought a new coach who is obviously quite ambitious and if you look at his approach he is now able to pick from u17, u20, u23 to create the CHAN team and also refresh the senior team,” he said.
“So this is the path that we have now taken to re-invigorate the team. Of course for the soccer fan everything I have said is not making sense we just have to qualify to the Africa Cup.”
Kamanga says his executive has its eyes on Africa Cup and World Cup qualification through its 10-year strategic plan.
“We have developed a strategic focus that in the next 10 years we want to go to five Africa Cups. We can now be ambitious enough to win our second and third Africa Cups and also go to the World Cup three time in the next 10 years,” he said.
Kamanga said his executive had reached out to his predecessor Kalusha Bwalya with the possibility of engaging him as a brand ambassador for the novel KoPa brand given his celebrity status.
“We met in Ghana in 2018 at the CAF Awards. During that time Kalusha was serving in CAF. I approached him and said we are now looking to launch our own KoPa brand as FAZ and asked him if he would be in a position to support the initiative because obviously to the public he has got this persona so it is a lot easy for him to be on a billboard that is who he is,” he said.
“Unlike my face, very few people know me, if anything I operate more from the background than the frontline. We had a conversation. I said this is a good initiative from a commercial side we wanted him to be the brand ambassador that he could take the brand of FAZ forward. That is one way in which he could contribute without being president of the FA. “
Kamanga delighted in his cordial working relationship government through the ministry of sports.
“Government is a stakeholder yes, but as you would expect we have a constitution. I think ever since we came into office, we have always had a good relationship with the government,” he said.
“Even now to get to a point of resolving the current wrangles we give credit to our able minister of sport honourable Emmanuel Mulenga. I think he has provided leadership to a point where we have now reached an agreement that we will have a meeting with FIFA and whatever will be resolved there will now see everyone moving forward.”
On the same program Kamanga ventured into his energy industry exploits where he runs North Western Energy which is model indigenously run company and his knack for numbers with his successful EnFin Accounting Firm.
Kamanga also serves as National Boys Brigade Patron in the United Church of Zambia.