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Zambia/Equatorial Guinea: Sport on – Champions Aren’t Made in the Gyms – posted by

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AS time ticks towards the Equatorial Guinea/Gabon African soccer finals, I share a quote by Muhammad Ali: “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, and a vision.”

The boxing great may not have been talking football, but winning the Africa Cup will surely take more character than the mere absence of giants Egypt, Cameroun and Nigeria at next January’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

What Zambia needs more than the Football Association of Zambia dangling a few pieces of silver in front of the national team is psyching them to win. The key to AFCON glory is mostly mental.

After watching Herve Renard’s men put up an otherwise good display, but still go on to lose 0-2 to Nigeria – in his return as Zambia coach, I was left wondering whether we have what it takes to conquer Africa.

Renard himself said before last Tuesday’s friendly that a semi-final finish at AFCON was just fine. He is now talking about introducing into the team’s new philosophy of playing attractive football. Surely it’s goals we want.

Frenchman Renard’s primary goal should be to win, and not entertain the fans. We don’t need another Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal boss appears to have lost focus. His priorities, ahead of winning, appear to be frugal spending, good football and youth development.

If the Chipolopolo have to end their continental drought, they may have to emulate the Italians who don’t always play the most attractive football but they are always difficult to beat and have the knack of winning the games.

Maybe you feel that nobody should read too much into the result in Kaduna as it was only a meaningless friendly, with a plethora of substitutions disrupting the flow of the game, that game exposed our lack of a real killer instinct.

Renard blamed the loss on his players lacking fitness because they have not been featuring regularly at their various clubs. Let’s altogether drop heavy-legged players! Taxpayers’ money could be better spent on locals like Luka Lungu, Kennedy Mudenda and Evans Kangwa.

And as much as I would like to see a Zambia v someone final, I still expect the final to have something of a look of a West African affair.

Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast are favourites. Drifting away from the beautiful game, boxing officials have turned the media as the ring to trade punches; little wonder boxing is no longer the top medal-producing sport at international fora.

The showdown has arisen after contrasting interpretation of the International Amateur Boxing Federation (IABA) and the Zambia Amateur Boxing Federation (ZABF) constitution on the eligibility of one professional boxing manager, Chris Malunga to vie for the country’s top amateur job.

In calling for a ceasefire, I end with a quote by one bombastic politician telling off wrangling civic leaders at Solwezi Municipal Council: “Stop the senseless shadow boxing cannibalism (sic).” Catch me next week. Have a blessed sporting weekend.

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