SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA (FAZ) TO MARK THE OCCASSION OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE NATIONAL TEAM FROM THE 2010 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS IN ANGOLA.
STATE HOUSE, LUSAKA.
28 JANUARY 2010
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda,
Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development
Cabinet Ministers present here
Deputy Ministers present here
Permanent Secretaries present here
Senior Government Officials
Executive Committee Members of the Football Association of Zambia
Technical Staff and players
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Your Excellency, we are deeply honoured to be here with you; to be welcomed in this manner after our outing to the 27th Africa Cup of Nations.
This ceremony is highly emotive for us. It is emotive Mr. President because when the Chipolopolo were preparing for the Africa Cup, nobody gave the Zambia National Soccer Team a chance to progress.
We were considered and declared under-dogs and given no chance to even qualify to the quarter-finals. Our outing was predicted by many as one which was to only escort pre tournament favourites Cameroun and Tunisia to qualify from our group.
But because of your steadfast support and that of your government and indeed the hard work that we put in administration in adequately preparing the team, the Chipolopolo rose to the occasion and did Zambia proud by progressing to the quarter-finals. The boys proved the bookmakers who gave Zambia no chance wrong. We did not just sneak into the quarter-finals; we won a very tough group comprising World Cup finalists Cameroun and Tunisia as well as Gabon. We were number one ahead of tournament favourites and so called big names.
Mr. President, from the outset we had stated that our primary mission was to end the long spell which had seen our respective Nations Cup campaigns end in the group stages. That long period extends way back to the Africa cup of 1996 when we finished third in South Africa. With qualification from the group, we stated that we would go as far as we possibly could and fight for every ball until we had succeeded. The boys did that and only the lottery of the post match penalty shoot outs denied us a semi-final place.
But the performance of the team was fantastic. I’m sure your Excellency that with your passion for football and great love for your country, you will agree with me as millions others do that the boys represented their country with great honour and dignity. They carried our flag higher and did the Zambian people a lot of pride.
Today, we continue our rise and are in the elite class of the eight best teams in Africa.
This success Mr. President like I stated earlier is rooted in your support, your government and our line ministry, the Football Association of Zambia, our various partners and indeed the Zambian football fans and people.
To you we remain indebted and grateful.
Going forward, my administration will ensure that we become better because our squad has massive talent and skills, young and has a rich reservoir of home grown talent from which the technical team will continue to tap from.
We will continue to encourage the boys to aspire for success in their individual capacities at their clubs so that even when they are not with the national team, they continue to be disciplined and good ambassador for Zambia. They are great ambassadors in whom we all should be proud of. And your leadership in showing us that is manifest in your wonderful support for the team and this event just underscores that.
May I conclude Mr. President that our campaign in Angola was good. The team was exemplary and the administration of our team was high-quality. We went into Angola united to succeed and return united with a good focus on the future.
To my Executive, staff at FAZ, Technical staff and players I want to thank you through you Mr. President for this wonderful achievement. Nothing gives me more joy both as player and now as an administrator of football than to bring joy to the millions of Zambians for whom we owe this success. We can today proudly stand and state that Zambia is back where it belongs and has gained the respect of the African continent which has eluded us for 14 years. That Mr. President has been our greatest achievement in Angola.
I thank you.