FORMER national team coaches are upbeat the under-23 team will qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Dickson Makwaza, who was assistant coach to late Samuel ‘Zoom’ Ndhlovu at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, said the junior Chipolopolo need mental and psychological strength to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro showpiece.
He gave an account of the 1988 squad’s successful campaign at the Seoul Olympics, saying the team prepared adequately for the challenge.
Zambia reached the quarter finals where they lost 4-0 to West Germany after drawing 2-2 with battered Guatemala and Italy 4-0 apiece with Kalusha Bwalya accounting for five goals.
“After we beat Italy, our next opponent, Germany, went to ask their friends what was so special about Zambia and they gave them all the information they needed and which players to get hold of and that’s how we lost to Germany.
“They say football has gone scientific but I don’t agree to that. What is involved are preparations and all we need are good preparations and a well-organized technical bench,” Makwaza said.
He said what is needed is to go back to the basics and allow senior coaches to assist the current technical bench prepare the team in all areas.
“Mental pressure is what is killing us. We can bring the best of coaches but if the players are not psychologically prepared, nothing will happen. We have what it takes and the only thing is to prepare physically, mentally and psychologically,” Makwaza said.
Zambia beat Ivory Coast 4-3 on penalties after settling for goalless draws over two legs of the 2015 Senegal Africa Under-23 Championship.
And former national team coach Patrick Phiri is confident the under-23 will qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.
“So far so good, the team is very strong and we have all the confidence in the players after eliminating a strong team like Ivory Coast. We have what it takes to beat any team,” Phiri said.
He is optimistic Zambia will ably take on north and west African sides at the Senegal finals.
Other teams that have qualified for the Senegal finals are Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Mali, Tunisia and South Africa.
Mufulira Wanderers coach Manfred Chabinga said with hard work, Zambia will be among the top three teams at the Senegal finals.
Chabinga, who was a member of the 1988 national team, called on the players to believe in themselves.