Chipolopolo coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic says he is happy with the adherence levels of his players with the online training program that his technical bench are administering.
Featuring on ZNBC’s Sport On Program, Micho said that the resumption of football in some top leagues was a good sign that could signal that even Zambia was not too far to make a return.
The man dubbed the Serbian Wolf in global football circles said players had sacrificed a lot during this period and was hopeful that their efforts would be rewarded soon.
Micho said that once the authorities gave football a comeback signal he would pick up from where he left with a camp for local players that he had put on a special program that saw him trim the number from 131 to 28.
The 28 players were his pick ahead of the African Nations Championship that was going to be preceded by the Three-Nations Invitational tournament in Uganda.
His cross-country camps culminated into an all local assemblage that played Malawi in an international friendly match that Zambia won 1-0 with Micho fielding two sides.
“I need to give credit to our players that they have really taken it (online training) very seriously. The way life is going I regard Zambian players as one of the hardest working on the continent and great believers,” he said.
“They have invested so much and I am looking forward to that investment being abided and I am sure it will pay back when they return to the field.”
Micho said the lengthened lull from active football has given him an opportunity to include players that had previously been injured prior to the suspension of football activities.
Among the players back on his roster are Jimmy Ndhlovu, Mwila Phiri, Isaac Shamujompa and Sebastian Mwange who had been left out of the provisional squad for the postponed Three-Nation Tournament and the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
“From 28 players we have added in the group 37 more, we have 55 at present, we have among those that at the time of us going at the tournament (CHAN) were injured like Isaac Shamujompa, Sebastian Mwange, Mwila Phiri and Jimmy Ndhlovu and others that have not been in proper shape in that moment,” he said.
“So the loop of 55 players are going in the seventh week of the intensive work. I could say that we have reached a certain level based on controlling mechanism and we have seen where they are.”
Micho said his technical bench had designed a set of exercises that were upgraded weekly.
“Very crucial was setting to a Plan B under the Covid-19 which was setting up 85 exercises that are done in closed space where players are, exercises that are treating the whole body,” he said.
“We have done the consultation even among others, the fitness team of Novak Djokovic (tennis star) in terms of what is the best for us to keep the players going over the bridge of Covid-19 so that once we get over the bridge we have the comparative advantage ahead of other teams.”
The Chipolopolo trainer said his technical bench had earmarked a goalkeeping course as top of the list as the last training for divers was held in 1998.
“Based on the information that we have the schools are supposed to open in June, we are also looking to use this, probably one area which has been so much been neglected, imagine that the last goalkeeping course was in 1998,” he said.
“We need to retain a Zambian goalkeeping academy and school. We are looking forward to get started with our goalkeeping coach Dushan Stojanovic who has been working for 23 years in seven countries producing top class goalkeepers in five top leagues and playing UEFA Champions League himself. We want to spread goalkeeping activities to the rest of the country and producing a school.”
Micho said that the return to league action in Germany and also other top leagues giving the all clear for matches to be played was a good sign.
“We believe that if some countries that have been affected like Germany (already playing), Italy, Spain and England are almost there to re-start training in groups. In Austria players like Enock Mwepu and Patson Daka have started training in groups and the team is preparing for the start at the end of the month. In Africa all the serious countries like Egypt will start on 15 June, Tunisia will start also in June, Morocco and South Africa also has their plan,” he said.
“We have taken some steps that are very important that the institution of FAZ got technical advice that we need to re-start football…of course respecting authorities like the Ministry of Sports who will report to the Ministry of Health that will give advice to the Head of State that we will open.”
Micho was unveiled as Chipolopolo coach on February 3, 2020 and immediately got down to work but had to adjust his plans after the outbreak of the Covid-19 that saw the postponement of the CHAN that had been set to start on April 4 in Cameroon and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Zambia is among 16 African countries that qualified for the CHAN and is in Group D alongside Guinea, Namibia and Tanzania.