Published: May 6, 2013
FOOTBALL Association of Zambia technical director Honour Janza says Jacob Mulenga did not start a game at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa because he was reserved for more difficult games past the group stage.
In an interview yesterday, Janza explained that Chipolopolo technical bench valued Mulenga as their best player and described as unfortunate his interpretation of the lack of game time at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Janza explained that the technical team did not envisage an early exit at the Africa Cup of Nations, hence reserved the prolific striker for more difficult games past the group stage.
“Jacob at one time during the 2013 Africa Cup training in South Africa complained of backache and was rested for one or two days. That could have contributed to the coach’s decision to rest him in the group stages,” Janza said.
“We did not think we would be out of the tournament that early and him being one of our best players, we wanted him to play in other tough games past the group stages.”
He advised Mulenga not to think of retiring from national team because he was still a valuable player for Chipolopolo.
“The mere fact that we called him (to national team) signifies how much we value him; he is one of our best players. And if there is a problem, let him call the coach and talk. He is still too young to think of hanging his boots for the nation,” Janza said.
He advised players to also understand the coach’s game plan and put in their best during training when called for national duty.
And Chipolopolo trainer Herve Renard said he could not respond to Mulenga through the press.
“I don’t have to respond to a player through the newspaper,” Renard said.
Mulenga told Planet TV that he was pondering retiring from the national team, citing lack of game time during the last Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
“I knew the team had won the Africa Cup before without me, but on an honest point of view, going by the records of what was happening, by how players were performing back then, not to speak for myself but to speak by the records, I think I had the best record from the strikers that were there from the clubs records. And to go sit on the bench, I felt really mentally drained,” Mulenga said.
“I am one person who doesn’t like to do something when I don’t feel right about it, I basically won’t do it. Like right now, that’s the way I am feeling about the Africa Cup on what happened with the whole national team. It’s a stage I really have to sit down and think what’s next because, I am 29, and it’s not a phase to go and learn and say eventually you can play with the national team. It’s either you are playing or you are not.”
The Utrecht FC player pulled out of the 2014 World Cup qualifier match against Lesotho in March this year, citing an unexplained medical condition.