Zambia coach Chilufya tells players to stay positive after Under-17 Afcon cancellation

Zambia coach George Chilufya hopes there will be no lasting affects to his players after the bitter disappointment of the cancellation of the 2021 Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations in Morocco.

Zambia had already travelled to the North African nation and begun their preparations there, only to be told on Monday night the tournament had been cancelled due to fears around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chilufya admits it came as a shock to the players and there was much disappointment when they were told.

“It’s not good for African football, the boys and all of us have put in a lot [ahead of the tournament],” Chilufya said. “Not just us, but all the associations have invested in this. But again, we are living in a world that is full of surprises and this coronavirus has turned the world upside down.

“Nevertheless, we have boys that are just developing and what is important now is that we look after them so they remain positive so that their process of development continues.

“These boys were expectant and excited, we have a very talented group.

“So to be told that the tournament has been cancelled, from the way they responded they were disappointed, but after a few encouraging words they were better.”

Chilufya admits that the players will just have to take it on the chin and maintain a positive attitude despite their obvious disappointment.

“We have no control over nature, the only thing we can talk about is the football aspect and the disturbance there. Since the coronavirus came, all sporting activities have been disturbed here and there.

“The difference here is that these are young boys and it can affect them more. But we hope they remain positive.”

Zambia had been drawn in Group A along with hosts Morocco, Uganda and Ivory Coast, and were due to play their opening game against the latter on Sunday.