HH Congratulates Chipolopolo for 7th Cosafa Crown As Malawi Settles for Fourth

Zambia won COSAFA Cup as Malawi finished fourth

President Hakainde Hichilema has conveyed heartfelt congratulations to the Zambia National Football team from the coastal city of Durban, where the Chipolopolo recently secured their seventh Cosafa crown. He described this achievement as a significant milestone, making the Chipolopolo the record winners of the 26-year-old regional crown, surpassing Zimbabwe, who have won it six times, and South Africa, who are five-time champions.

The Zambian President proudly listed the years in which Zambia clinched the Cosafa title: 1997, 1998, 2006, 2013, 2019, 2022, and 2023. He emphasized that while Zambia can rightfully take a moment to celebrate as regional champions, the bigger picture is to use the Cosafa tournament as an opportunity to develop and expose young talents. The Chipolopolo’s technical bench successfully provided more than half of the team with their debut national team appearance through the Cosafa competition.

Hakainde elaborated on Zambia’s broader objectives, aiming to provide an opportunity for the top performers from their under-23 national team and exceptional league players to test their skills on a regional stage. Additionally, the platform was used to support and empower promising local coaches, offering them a chance to hone their coaching skills at the international level. He praised the efforts of the national team assistant coach, Moses Sichone, and his supporting team of Numba Mumamba, Mwenya Chipepo, Masautso Tembo, and Davies Phiri, expressing confidence in their ability to build their coaching credentials.

The Zambian leader highlighted that Chipolopolo coach Avram Grant worked closely with the technical bench to align the team’s performance with Zambia’s long-term national team vision. The next challenge for the local Chipolopolo squad is the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers, set to take place in a fortnight. Hakainde commended the Cosafa tournament for being instrumental in preparing the team for the upcoming CHAN assignment at the end of the month.

Shifting focus to women’s football, President Hakainde Hichilema mentioned that the Copper Queens have settled in Hamilton ahead of their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Group C opener against Japan at Waikato Stadium on Saturday. He highlighted the extensive preparatory program, including matches against five other world cup-bound teams: Colombia, South Korea, Ireland, Switzerland, and Germany. The team’s month-long training camp in Germany aimed to ensure maximum preparedness. Hichilema expressed gratitude for the warm welcome the Zambian community in Australia/New Zealand extended to the team in Hamilton.

He acknowledged that the team faced an injury concern with one of their key players, but stated that the tournament regulations addressed such situations. Article 26.3 of the tournament regulations outlines the process for replacing a player in the event of serious injury or illness up to 24 hours before the team’s first match. Hichilema confirmed that decisions regarding the team’s roster were made in consultation with the medical and technical staff, and they have assembled a well-rounded technical bench with diverse expertise to ensure a professional setup.

Hakainde urged the entire nation to rally behind the team as they represent Zambia on the global stage. He assured that the government has provided all administrative support necessary to prepare the team for this significant assignment and expressed confidence in their ability to deliver top-notch performances at the World Cup. He called upon every Zambian to extend their full support to the team.

Malawi, after a promising start, only settled for fourth position, having lost to Lesotho in the semi-finals and to South Africa in the third-place match.