Newly-appointed Chipolopolo coach Milutin Sredojevic, popularly known as Micho, says although he had the option of seeking a job in much more comfortable environs, he opted for the Chipolopolo as he believes in the potential of Zambian players.
And FAZ president Andrew Kamanga says Micho was an easy choice for the selectors as his master plan was more adept to the Zambian environment.
During the unveiling ceremony at Barca Academy, Micho likened the Zambian assignment to a neurosurgical operation that could finally turn a corner for the Zambian game.
He said that although other suitors had been on his case, he was more convinced that the Zambian expedition provided the most exciting challenge.
“I had a chance to go somewhere where it is much more comfortable but in respect of Zambian football and all of you, apologizing to everywhere I have not gone, but come here, because I believe in what we are supposed to do,” he said.
“It is a challenge, it is not a walk in the park but to go back and tell you what is pressure, I have been in my country Americans are bombing us, snakes are coming from down and people are shooting at you. This is pressure, serious pressure.”
Micho said he was preaching a never die spirit for the Zambian game under his watch.
“As Zambian football we shall not allow things to go away from us, never say die, and never give up needs to be our identity. Same like suicide bombers we have to try everything we can to show that we belong where we belong.”
The Serbian national said that Zambian players needed a stronger mental psyche to succeed in foreign soils.
“You know it is painful that countries below Zambia have players in Aston Villa, all countries are watching Mbwana Samatta (Tanzanian) playing for Atson Villa yet ourselves we have none,” he said.
“They have to pull their socks so that they are not cry-babies or excuse lookers or blame shifters but that they are taking responsibility fully and are aware that wherever they have been signed, they have been signed as players to make a difference.”
He added: “Some of them are making a difference, some of them are not making a difference. Those that are making a difference should keep up making a difference, those that are not making a difference to use this period until the transfer window to be ready for the possible challenge.”
Micho says his seven phase plan has its tip Zambia playing at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
“I would like to present to you a technical master plan, that has seven phases, a dream on top of that pyramid. In those seven phases we have the dream of going to the World Cup Qatar in 2022,” he said.
“Any success in life starts with a dream, I would like us not only to dream when we are sleeping but even when we are awake with our eyes open. We have a right to go beyond the March 26 match against Botswana, the match against Botswana is not played on the 26th but it is starting to be played now.”
Micho said he will have deep assessment of local players, continental and European based players as he builds his squad.
“We want to go and do deepest assessment of the present state of the players that as individuals are supposed to be the Parsifal mosaic the national team, to have a bracket of players playing locally, playing in Africa and brackets of players playing worldwide. And put those brackets of players in right shape of mind that is extremely strong,” he said.
“I know that Zambian football has no problem in talent and quality, I strongly believe that the biggest problem we have is mental strength.”
Micho added: “I am standing here in front of you in order to make our team mentally strong, physically fit, technically effective and tactically competitive because it is all about that result. We are not here only for a beauty contest of course to have a theoretical awareness of what is in front us.”
Meanwhile Kamanga said Micho would get down to work immediately with the task of salvaging the Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations dream.
Zambia plays Botswana on March 26 at home while the Chipolopolo will be away on March 31 on back to back fixtures that will be critical in putting the AFCON campaign back on track.
The Chipolopolo also have the CHAN tournament in April where they are among the 16 African countries battling for honours.
Zambia has also the World Cup campaign on radar in October where they are grouped with Tunisia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea.
Micho takes over from Sven Vandenbroeck whose contract was not renewed in March 2019 after failing to qualify Zambia to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
He has been signed on a two year contract and will be joined by two foreign coaches comprising his first assistant and goalkeeper trainer.
Micho will also have Oswald Mutapa as his local assistant and Stephen Mwansa as goalkeeper coach who will understudy the foreign goalkeeper coach.
Source: Football Association of Zambia