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Government salutes Chipolopolo boys

By James Muyanwa and Brenda Katongola

frontpic.jpgTHE Government has congratulated the Zambia national soccer team for qualifying to the 2008 African Cup of Nations finals after Sunday’s 3-1 win over South Africa and challenged them to bring the continental title back home following their splendid performance.

Chief Government Spokesperson, Mike Mulongoti said in Lusaka yesterday that the qualification was a surprise and a consoling victory especially coming barely three days after the burial of the late former national team player, Chaswe Nsofwa, who died in Israel last week after collapsing during a training session for his Division Two side Happoel Beersheba.

Mulongoti, who is Information and Broadcasting Services minister, said to ensure that the Chipolopolo brought the Africa Cup to Zambia for the first time, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) should start preparations for the Ghana finals now and the Government was expecting the association to draw up a budget for the preparations which it would look at.

He pledged the Government’s continued support to the sport and called on all stakeholders to rally behind the team and support it financially and otherwise saying that the responsibility was not just for the Government alone.

When asked if the Government was considering honouring the Chipolopolo players in any way, Mulongoti said that he could not commit himself to that but that Cabinet would look into the matter.

Asked if it was necessary to engage an expatriate coach after the team qualified under the guidance of a local one, Mulongoti said that the Government would continue to listen to those who were for and those who were against the idea before declaring its stance.

And soccer fans have continued to congratulate the national team for qualifying to the 2008 Ghana MTN-sponsored Africa Cup of Nations after defeating South Africa ’s Bafana Bafana 3-1 on Sunday in Cape Town .

FAZ treasurer, Rix Mweemba hailed the team for the good result and for making it to Ghana saying, South Africa have tested the bitterness of the loss that Zambia suffered in October last year in the first leg when they beat the chipolopolo boys 1-0 at Independence stadium in Lusaka.

http://www.times.co.zm/news/viewnews.cgi?category=16&id=1189491573