THE RISE AND FALL OFF SVEN VANDENBROECK
Written by Millennium on March 2, 2019
MUKWIMA CHILALA writes
A Journalist asked the Chipolopolo coach, Sven Vanderbroack, what made him the right man for the job when he was unveiled to the media by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Andrew Kamanga on June 16 2018. His
sarcastic response was one that still evolves nostalgic feelings towards the Belgian among both the media and soccer fans.
“That’s somehow a stupid question, but I will go ahead and answer it anyway,’’ he had responded.
FAZ on February 26, announced, through its spokesperson, that it would not renew Sven’s contract when his contract ends in March this year.
This news seems to have excited many Chipolopolo soccer fans as can be observed from the feedback that followed the announcement on both the social and conventional media.
The question about soccer fans’ excitement is understandable and can be traced to the question that the sports journalist, legitimately and without any malice asked the new coach as to whether he was the right man to coach a team of Chipolopolo’s pedigree.
Admittedly, the eight months that the Belgian has been at the helm of the Zambia national soccer team job has not been juiciest especially that he was dealing with very expectant fans who viewed going to the Africa Cup of Nations as rather a birth right. Sven himself agreed to append his signature to a job which had a 5 games qualifier to 2019 AFCON as a benchmark.
Upon unveiling Sven as the new national team coach, FAZ president Andrew Kamanga indicated that qualification to the 2019 AFCON was not negotiable and therefore the coach ought to have made sure the team qualified to the 2019 AFCON.
Kamanga observed that Vanderbroack was given a short-term contract to qualify the team to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
He also reminded the new coach that he was taking charge of a team whose fans are highly expectant of results.
Sven’s first assignment was Chipolopolo’s second AFCON qualifier match against Namibia having earlier lost its first game at Home to the “Mambas” of Mozambique, under former coach Wedson Nyirenda, hence putting pressure on Zambia to make sure that it collected maximum points in the remaining 5 games to enhance chances of the AFCON qualification.
The Belgian’s first team selection won him kudos as it gave hope that perhaps the national team had a good coach in him as he reopened Chipolopolo’s doors to bannished players, in the name of Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala and Emmanuel Mbola, who would later drop again on account of indiscipline.
The former Cameroon assistant coach, further created a good first impression by fusing a mixture of young talented and old experienced players with the best performing players.
Unfortunately the result would not go Zambia’s way in Windhoek, Namibia, as the visitors where almost going away without any victory had it not been for Justin Shonga who salvaged a point for Zambia by scoring a free kick to help it pick up an important away draw. This meant that all Zambia needed to do was to pick up maximum points in their next home and away fixtures against Guinea Bissau.
With Bissau beaten, behind a packed Heroes Stadium, curtesy of Justin Shonga and Stophila Sunzu goals but Chipolopolo would later falter to Guinea Bissau by a similar scoreline, and two days later, the AFCON dreams could be shattered by Mozambique who completed a double by beating Zambia at the Estadio De Machava Stadium, signaling the end of Zambia’s 2019 AFCON dreams.
Zambia’s failure to make it to AFCON 2019, with a game to spare, meant that Sven had failed his own benchmark, as given by the FAZ president Andrew Kamanga and his executive committee.
Unfortunately the Belgium’s short stint will only be remembered on the wrong side of the Zambian football history as having been the only foreign coach to fail to qualify Zambia to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Sven Vanderbroack’s short unsuccessful stint can perhaps only be likened to the unceremoneous stints by Burkhard Ziese and Jan Brouwer, who were part of Zambia’s first two games at AFCON 1998 before they were expelled, and never to return or be heard of in Zambian football circles