FIFA World Cup Zambia coach Avram Grant breaks silence on Sakala saga

Zambia coach Avram Grant has talked for the first time on his decision not to call up striker Fashion Sakala for their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June.

Coach Grant explained that part of his job is to select players, including the starting XI, and some of the players were not happy. He said that his decision to select the players for the 27-man provisional squad was completely professional.

“In all my 51 years of coaching, I have never seen a player react like that after not being chosen. I have never faced so many lies from a player because I did not pick him, and suddenly I am not a good coach.” said Grant.

The former Chelsea boss further went on to say the problem started at the AFCON against Morocco. Prior to the match, Grant stated that Sakala’s performance against Tanzania was not good, but he was not the only one, as many of the big players also come short in games at times.

He decided to change the formation after the red card, playing him as a second striker, but it was of no avail. He went on to play Lameck Banda in Sakala’s position as he felt Lameck was more capable of going toe to toe with Morocco’s best defender, Hakimi, and according to Grant, this did not sit well with Sakala.

Grant then stated he was not happy with Sakala’s ethic and attitude that he showed after the changes the coach made. After the AFCON exit and before the Four Nations tournament, Grant said he sent private messages to the players he felt did not perform as well as he had done all his life.

“I said to the five players I am not happy with their performance. I also told him I am not happy with his behavior before and during the game against Morocco. I didn’t say he was not a good player.

“I sent the message directly to him, like I did to the other five players, and all the other players that I thought didn’t perform well called me to say, Where can I improve? What can I do better? I thought he would also ask the same, but his answer was, Who are you to speak with me like this? You are not the boss of football in Zambia, and he even thought of putting a threat on me if I texted him again,Grant elaborated.

He further stated he still continued to text Sakala, but no responses were made. According to Grant, he decided that in the two up-coming games he needed to keep the harmony of the team; he would not pick players who felt they were not equal to the team and were unprofessional.

Dennis Mabuka

Dennis Mabuka is a seasoned Kenyan journalist with 18 years of experience covering sports events. He is currently a sport content creator with

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