Fans outraged over key players omission in Zambia’s World Cup qualifier squad


Zambian social media users have expressed disappointment with the provisional squad selection for the Chipolopolo side that will face Morocco and Tanzania in next month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Chipolopolo coach, Avram Grant, selected a 27-member provisional squad for June’s back-to-back qualifiers.

However, the shock exclusion of Saudi Arabia-based forward Fashion Sakala, Tanzanian club Simba SC’s Clatous Chama, and Italian-based forward Lameck Banda has angered fans.

Netizens are clearly surprised that the coach had not selected these players.

One fan wrote on the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) post announcing the squad: “Kamanga and your coach don’t take us for granted. We’ll come and remove you from that office, okay? Why leave out Fashion?”

Another fan commented: “Grant is not granting us anything. It’s clear FAZ is also involved in the selection of players, not just the technical bench.”

Some fans on social media have even predicted Zambian defeats due to the exclusion of these key players.

“Zambia is losing these games as long as we fail to stop experimenting. What has Fashion Sakala and Lameck Banda done this time?” wondered another netizen.

A significant number of social media users were displeased with the omission of Fashion Sakala, who is currently in form for his Saudi Pro League team Al Feiha.

“Where is Fashion Sakala Jr., Kamanga? Stop ruining this gentleman’s talent, we shall lift you from that office one day.”

Read more: Chipolopolo forward, Sakala, nets sixth straight goal as Al Feiha draw with Damac

Zambia will play Morocco and Tanzania on June 7th and 11th in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

FAZ President, Andrew Kamanga, responded to the outcry, stating that Chipolopolo coach Avram Grant was the best person to provide insights on the inclusions and omissions for his 27-member provisional squad ahead of the qualifiers.

Featuring on Supersport’s flagship show, Soccer Africa, Kamanga said the coach would address selection matters once the camp resumes after the weekend matches.

“The coach will have a press briefing when the team goes into camp, so he is better placed to explain who he has picked and why he made those decisions. We only provide guidance,” he said.

“Of course, we receive the list once the decision is made. We don’t normally interfere, but obviously, there has been backlash over two players. One is injured—Lameck Banda just had knee surgery. Fashion Sakala, if you remember the game against Tanzania in the Africa Cup, he was starting from the bench. Players are assessed based on form and now he is in top form, scoring goals in his league. This is a provisional squad; he could be back. The coach will give more details.”

Kamanga highlighted that Grant had done reasonably well with the team, having met the target of Africa Cup of Nations qualification, with the World Cup appearance target on course.

“The minimum target for him was to qualify the team for AFCON, which he did and to qualify for the World Cup. His contract ends at the close of the year,” Kamanga said.

“We missed three editions with the senior team, and Avram came in and qualified the team on top of the group, in a group where we had the eventual winners, Ivory Coast. This was a good starting point; now we have a good opportunity to make amends in the World Cup qualifiers.”

Meanwhile, Sakala scored for Al Feiha in a 1-all draw against Saudi Pro League side Al Taawoun on Thursday night, marking his 19th goal of the season.

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