Johannesburg - Two things that happened last month have given Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga confidence that a solid foundation has been laid from which his country’s football team can soar to dizzy heights.
Zambia was a dominating force in southern African football, reaching the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 1994 and annexing the title via a penalty shoot-out victory over Ivory Coast in 2012.
However, these wins were sporadic rather than consistent.
Now, Kamanga, who is part of the brigade that is spearheading change within the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) that has spiralled over to CAF, believes a firm foundation has been laid.
The foundation he is talking about is the Zambian Under-20 national team’s victory at the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations final on March 12, where they defeated Senegal 2-0.
Later in the month, Kamanga survived a bid to have him impeached at the FAZ annual congress.
The result was that he managed to put through a constitutional change that put his organisation in line with world football governing body Fifa and CAF, the continental structure.
“We are on solid ground,” Kamanga told City Press.
“Not only did we host a successful CAF Under-20 Championship, but our team emerged as champions and are off to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.”
Kamanga said this was a solid foundation from which to build a strong senior national team.
“There is newfound zest and we want to groom and protect these youngsters so that they graduate to the senior national team.
"We hope they can make the senior team, qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations and eventually the World Cup at senior level.”
The president said the team would have two camps prior to the World Cup, one in Europe and one in Japan, where they will spend a week before the tournament starts.
“We will soon be launching a new kit and hope to generate a lot of revenue from the sales, which will help us reach our goal of financial independence.”
The former player and club administrator, who took over the reigns in March last year after defeating Zambian icon Kalusha Bwalya, added that his recent victory at the congress had allowed his organisation to implement changes that would make it a respected brand, and would hopefully draw sponsors.
“At the congress, 309 members voted for the constitutional changes to be implemented, while there were only 11 against.
"As a result, we have reduced the electoral college from 380 to 89, in line with Fifa and CAF statutes. We now have only 13 executive committee members, which will make managing FAZ much easier,” he said.
“This has given us a proper platform to implement proper governance, accountability and transparency, which are cornerstones of modern football.
"We are now going to launch FAZ offices in 10 different centres around the country.
“We wanted to build a structure that would attract sponsorship,” he said.