The federation boss clears the air on the absence of the Rangers forward as Chipolopolo readies for their qualifying matches
Federation of Zambia Football Association President Andrew Kamanga has revealed the reason striker Fashion Sakala will not be available for the team’s 2022 World Cup qualifying matches.
The 24-year-old was among the foreign-based players named in the Chipolopolo squad by coach Beston Chambeshi for the double-header against Mauritania on September 3 and Tunisia on September 7 but he is yet to report to camp.
The absence of Sakala, who turns out for Rangers in the Scottish Premier League, elicited a lot of discussion on social media with many Chipolopolo fans faulting coach Chambeshi for snubbing the player, something Kamanga has come out to clarify and put the record straight.
“When we sent the request for his release, the club [Rangers] released Fashion [Sakala] but he decided he wasn’t fit enough and he has asked to be excused because he believes he cannot contribute at 100 percent because he is still recovering from an injury,” Kamanga told Capital FM as quoted by the Zambia FA website.
Despite Sakala’s absence, Kamanga is confident the technical bench will use the players available to get a positive start against Mauritania in Morocco.
“We have enough firepower; the team is ready and prepared adequately. We hope that Fifa will be able to resolve the Covid-19 [red-list] issues so we have our players from England to come and play at home [against Tunisia on Tuesday],” Kamanga continued.
Despite the absence of Sakala, Zambia managed to get other professionals named in the squad including Leicester City forward Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu, who features for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
In a recent interview, Daka admitted they will be under pressure to deliver for the fans when they kick off their campaign.
“I know a lot has to be done; a lot is expected from myself, so I really know the reason why I am here. I am happy that I am able now to meet with my teammates,” the 22-year-old told Zambia FA’s official website.
“I know the expectations are so high not only from the fans back home but also from ourselves as a team because we know what is at stake.
“I think this is a new beginning. It is a new challenge we are starting and so we just must put behind us all the misfortunes we have had like missing the Afcon.”
After playing Mauritania at Stade Olympique in the capital city of Nouakchott, Zambia will return home to host Tunisia on September 7, 2021, at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.