2015 AFCON: Blow for Zambia as three accident players ruled out of tournament

Three Zambia players who were involved in a fatal car crash over the weekend have been ruled the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which is a blow to the chance of the Chipolopolo.

Defender Nyambe Mulenga says he is staying positive despite facing the reality of missing the AFCON finals through injury that will see him out of action for three months.

Green Eagles goalkeeper Satchmo Chakawa underwent an operation yesterday at Kabwe General Hospital and is still under observation while Changwe Kalale was expected to be evacuated to Lusaka last evening but all have been ruled out.

Mulenga with Chakawa and Kalale were involved in a traffic road accident on Sunday when a Toyota Prado collided with a Zesco United executive bus they were in near Green Restaurant in Kabwe on the Great North Road.

The Zesco bus, which had nine people on board, was taking the three players to Lusaka to join the local Chipolopolo squad to kick-start the AFCON preparations.

Mulenga fractured his right leg and will be out of action for 12 weeks, Chakawa suffered a ruptured spleen and bladder while Kalale has a fracture on his left leg, a broken arm and deep cut on the right of his head.

Speaking in an interview from Lusaka Trust Hospital, Mulenga said he was still hoping to travel to Equatorial Guinea to give the team some moral support.

“What has happened is beyond me, I just have to accept that I won’t play in the AFCON but I just want to be there just to watch the team play and give them the moral support. This is not the end of my career, it is just a fracture I will be able to play again,” he said.

Central Province medical officer, Rosemary Mwanza said Kalale and Chakawa with Zesco United officials Frank Chitambala, Lomuthunzi Mbeba and Peter Mutale were still under observation at Kabwe General Hospital.

A source at the hospital said Chakawa had an operation and could not be moved to allow him gain some strength but is likely to be evacuated to Lusaka soon as he recovers.

Chipolopolo coach Honour Janza said the team was saddened with the players’ accident and that it came at a time when the squad was about to start the 2015 AFCON preparations.

“The accident was unfortunate, but as a team we have no option but to soldier ahead with pain and deliver the results. The mood in camp is low as the players have been affected with what happened to their colleagues.

“It is sad for Nyambe who really worked hard to earn his place in the team and it pains me as a parent to see my children go through such pain but we pray for their quick recovery,” he said.

Janza said he was hoping to give Chakawa a chance to feature at the tournament due to his abilities in goal keeping.

Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili expressed sadness at the development that resulted in the loss of four lives.

“As minister in charge of sports, I am deeply saddened with this news, the boys were on their way to report for camp and the unfortunate happened. I can only wish them and other victims a quick recovery,” he said.

Chief Government Spokesperson Joseph Katema, who is also Information Minister, urged motorists to be extra cautious on the roads to avoid accidents.