Chipolopolo coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic says citizens should adhere to the guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Health in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic.
Featuring on ZNBC’s The Dressing Room program, Micho said he is keeping his players in check amidst the coronavirus attack to ensure that they are ready to get back on their feet once football resumes.
He said that the fans should look forward to exciting times for the Chipolopolo once the covid-19 threat had been overcome.
“I would like to say here, to all of us to follow the guidance from the medical experts through the Ministry of Health. We must not underrate this invisible opponent that is in front of us which is the first match we need to win,” he said.
“To win we need mental strength and generate positive energy that we are human beings and we have common sense inside ourselves and following medical advice and be extremely disciplined and responsible.”
Micho said that his technical bench was keeping tabs of all the players on their radar during the covid-19 threat to ensure they did not fall to complacency.
“When you are coming in this situation, this is the road where you are at crossroads, you can be reactive and say let us sit and wait or be proactive that we shall sit together with the technical team and leadership in FAZ and draw a strategic master plan over this crisis of Covid-19 that we oversee the whole situation,” he said.
“We have different situations, for example if I tell that on Saturday our two players Edward Chilufya and Emmanuel Banda (on the books of Djurgardens in Sweden) are starting playing because the Premier League of Sweden is starting, even the second division started yesterday (Sunday) and you are having on the other side, everyone elsewhere have stopped.”
Micho said it was the duty of the technical bench to spread positive energy among the players and ensure that they remained focused.
“After having an overview of the situation, we have set goals for the players and the team through this trauma and torture. We are also suffering so we need to generate positive energy as leaders to try to inject in our players belief that discipline with seriousness can uproot to not be complacent toward this terrible situation,” he said.
“We have to find a way to come out of the problem. We have decided to make our players theoretically aware, mentally strong, and physically fit and most importantly guide them how to pass time while in isolation.”
Micho said he expected the players to die a little for their country once the coronavirus had been shaken off.
“I have been a great opponent to Zambian teams and players. I had them besides me, I had Isaac Chansa in 2006, Shonga (Justin), Mulenga (Augustine) and Muwowo (Austin) recently, they have always been reliable. I have always believed in their talent and quality and now there is that additional factor that is patriotism,” he said.
“I want them to die a little for that jersey, for the nation because this country is going through trauma and stress of this covid-19 crisis. Once this is finished Zambians need some soul healing. We have the power of healing the souls and we want to do that.”
Micho reiterated his belief that Zambia’s sloppy start to the Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations that started with back-to-back losses to Algeria and Zimbabwe can be rescued.
“When you look at the situation, it is not giving you any confidence, scoring one, conceding seven, having zero points with opponents ahead of us. You have a situation where in two matches (upcoming against Botswana) that we expect that all this (covid-19) passes soon that at the end of June we are looking to play because CAF has two plans either in June or August,” he said.
“Whenever it is that time, we need to play every single match like suicide bombers giving everything. The quality of our players with the deepest attention to details of technical team, plus support of all stakeholders, we have everything it takes with this neurosurgeon operation.”
He added: “We need total focus, to say never say die, never give up.”
He said that Zambia ranked among the top five African countries in terms of talent and pledged to harness it and take Zambia to the top.
“Zambia to me is one of top five African football countries in terms of the talent you have. Sometimes I catch myself when I look at the players’ talent. Are these people even aware of what they have? This is what delights you when you go to sleep thinking that you need to do more and add something extra,” he said.
Micho said that his technical bench had shared video clips of the training sessions and also the international friendly against Malawi with the players to help them improve their game.
Footage of previous Chipolopolo games has also been used for some foreign based players as part of the strategic plan during the covid-19 threat.
Micho took over the Chipolopolo job hot-seat on February 3, 2020 and has been re-organizing the national team with local camps that culminated into an international friendly match with Malawi on March 12 in Lusaka.
Zambia won 1-0 through a Collins Sikombe goal as Micho tested local in two halves that saw two different teams fielded.
The technical bench has been building with twin-targets of building for the Cameroon 2021 AFCON qualifiers and the Chan that have both been postponed due to the covid-19 threat.