FOOTBALL Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya expected Chipolopolo skipper Rainford Kalaba to be among the players short-listed for the 2015 African-footballer-of-the-year awards.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has short-listed 37 players for the African-player-of-the-year award and 24 for the African-footballer-of-the-Year based on the continent.
No Zambian player has been short-listed for this year’s awards.
Kalusha said from Johannesburg yesterday that football is a team sport and most players that have been nominated are from clubs that are doing well in the CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup among other international competitions.
Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, Ghana and Swansea midfielder Andre Ayew and Nigeria and Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama are some of the players that have been nominated for the continent’s best player award.
“I looked at the list and most of the players are from clubs that are doing well in major competitions. I expected Rainford Kalaba to make it looking at his form and where TP Mazembe is,” Kalusha said.
Democratic Republic of Congo outfit TP Mazembe face USM Algers of Algeria in the 2015 Champions League final.
Kalaba was runner-up to former Al Ahly and Egypt midfielder Mohammed Aboutrika in the African-best-player based in Africa in 2012 while Zambia defender Stopilla Sunzu was third.
He was also nominated for the same award in 2013.
Kalusha, who is also CAF executive committee member, is optimistic a Zambian will be rewarded in future.
“As a nation, we are on the right path and that calls for optimism going forward. Let’s see ourselves in major competitions and I am not worried that there is no Zambian player on the list. It does not summarise Zambian football,” the 1988 African-Footballer-of-the-Year said.
He, however, said there is need for southern African countries to work hard and produce individual players that can conquer Africa and halt the dominance of North and West African players.
And national team coach George Lwandamina said most Zambian players are not in the limelight hence their absence on the nominees lists for the two awards.
Lwandamina said Zambia has done well in terms of producing good players and is optimistic they will make it in future.
“It’s not about not having capacity to produce good players. Maybe it’s because we don’t have players that are in the limelight but in terms of developing players, I think we have done well and am sure in future we’ll be able to have some on the list,” he said.
Lwandamina said it is every Zambian’s wish to have players short-listed for prestigious awards.
“We want players to be in the limelight but they should work extra hard, be disciplined and committed for them to be there. These factors will give us what we need as a nation,” he said.
Other players that have been recognised are former Chipolopolo skipper Christopher Katongo, who was voted BBC African-Footballer-of-the-Year in 2012.
The BBC award is independent from the CAF awards and Katongo is the first Zambian player to grab the award after steering the Chipolopolo to the maiden Africa Cup title.