Fighton Simukonda on Wednesday was the fall guy for Zambia’s miserable showing at the 2015 CAF U23 Africa Cup of Nations.
The news was clearly broken a senior source at Football House authorized to speak just 48 hours after the team arrived from Dakar where they suffered three straight defeats to make a forgettable tournament debut and headed back home with dreams of Brazil totally shuttered.
Simukonda’s position on the senior team bench too was not spared.
‘Suicidal’ was the rather disparaging word used by the source to describe keeping Simukonda on in the job that was basically redundant for the next three years.
But with Simukonda’s gone but why keep an inactive bench that will wait to return to action for the 2019 All-Africa Games and 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers?
They should all go: Tennant Chilumba, Kampamba Chintu, the lot.
What happens to the technical adviser George Lwandamina?
No reprimand for his input in Dakar? No ultimatum for next months CHAN?
It is sad that the source’s thinly- veiled attack on Simukonda was unfortunate.
This is the man who has saved a cash-strapped Nchanga Rangers full of on loan players afloat for the last two seasons.
He came with a track record too, with two league titles with Zanaco and one with Zesco United and was the first coach to qualify a Zambian club to the group stage of the CAF Champions League with the latter club in 2011.
He also led an unfancied Konkola Blades to a second place finish in the 2000 BP Top 8 final where they lost to an unstoppable Nkana.
Simukonda, for those that do not know, is also a winner with Zambia.
He was the second coach to lead Zambia to Cosafa Cup triumph in 1998 as interim coach.
Back to the team, claims that eight of the Under-23 players were outstanding in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Sudan were baseless.
Unless we were watching a Martian version of Zambia in November, we all know that it was the hard toil of veterans Collins Mbesuma and Winston Kalengo including Nathan Sinkala who put some gloss on the team against a shockingly average Sudan side.
Meanwhile, Christopher Katongo’s class of 2003 coached by Peter Kaumba that didn’t even have a Rainford Kalaba in its ranks remains a Zambia Under-23 benchmark for over the last decade.
None of the last three teams that have come along have shown the kind of kick-ass football Katongo, Isaac Chansa, Kennedy Mweene, Jacob Mulenga, Billy Mwanza, Felix Katongo and Mbesuma did despite falling short on the road to Athens in 2004 and finishing fourth in Abuja the previous year.