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13.09.2005 Football News

Abedi to tour Zambia

Raymond Yeboah

AFRICAN football legend Abedi Ayew Pele has urged Zambians to forget about the pain of missing out on next year's World Cup finals in Germany.

In a telephone interview from his home country Ghana, Pele who arrives in the country this evening on a four-day visit, said Zambia must now concentrate on preparing for the 2010 World Cup.

Pele also said Zambia should concentrate on moulding a strong team to compete in January's African Cup of Nations tournament slated for Egypt.

"If you look at the state of Zambian football, it has been down since that plane crash that shook the whole continent in 1993," Pele said.

"You seriously need to recover from such a tragedy, though I am happy to see that Zambia has done quite well from the time Kalusha (Bwalya) took over as coach.

"The only thing that has to happen now is forget about the disappointment and start preparing for the 2010 tournament."

Pele said Zambia had a youthful team that will mature by 2010 if it is maintained, adding that the Chipolopolo Boys need everyone's support to succeed.

The three-time former African footballer of the year further advised Bwalya not to resign after next year's Egypt Nations Cup where Zambia has already booked a place.

"I am not on the ground there and I know as an ex-player, Kalusha must have had his own objectives after being appointed," he said.

"In my case, I will always support Kalusha because I think he's doing a good job. But like I said, it's up to the Zambian people to decide."

Zambia missed out on the race to Germany after losing to Senegal 1-0 two weeks ago.

The battle for qualification has now been left to novices Togo who lead Group One on 20 points, followed by Senegal on 18.

With just one game remaining before the qualifiers finish next month, Togo only need a draw against Congo Brazzaville to make their maiden appearance at the World Cup.

And commenting on his trip to Zambia courtesy of South African television channel SuperSport, Pele said he was excited about the trip.

"I am very happy and passionate to be in Zambia," he said.

During his visit, Pele is among other things expected to visit the SOS Children Village and hold a press conference.

He last visited Zambia in April 2002 with world soccer governing body, FIFA president Sepp Blatter.