Phiri calls for 'cool heads' in talks about his future

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Zambia’s Sports Minister Gabriel Namulambe has already expressed bitterness with Zambia’s first round departure from the continent’s biggest soccer showpiece.

In a telephone interview yesterday after Zambia drew 1-all with Egypt, Phiri said it would not be ideal to discuss his future with the team at the moment.

Phiri was awarded a three-month contract extension running through to March 31 this year after his initial tenure expired on December 31.

The coach said it was difficult to talk about his future with the Chipolopolo Boys barely 24 hours after their ejection from the competition.

Phiri said he did not expect the team to earn a premature exit from the event considering the amount of preparations involved.

“All of us are emotional… we must recover because such things (future with the team) are discussed with cool minds. It helps to make impartial decisions.

“It’s important to reflect on what transpired. I can only talk about the moment because we have to allow the dust to settle.”

Phiri said he was as disappointed as any other person to see Zambia bow out of the competition at first hurdle for the fifth consecutive time since 1998.

“I am not disappointed with my reign because for the future we have learnt lessons but for the goal of winning the Africa Cup, we are disappointed we are out at this stage,” he added.

Phiri said the Chipolopolo Boys prepared very well for the tournament in Ghana but would now have to take stock of their failure at the competition.

“It’s unfortunate we are out… we played much better against Egypt, created good chances but did not score as we wanted,” he said.

Phiri was appointed Chipolopolo Boys trainer following the resignation of Kalusha Bwalya after the Egypt 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.

Alongside his deputy Fighton Simukonda, Phiri managed to win two regional titles – the COSAFA Castle Cup and CECAFA title in 2006 – before securing the team a place at the Ghana competition.

Phiri’s contract was then extended with the search for an expatriate coach suspended until after the Nations Cup this year.

Meanwhile, sports minister Gabriel Namulambe said he would issue a comprehensive statement on the team’s performance on Monday.

“I am still bitter we are out of the tournament, which I didn’t expect. For now, let the people comment starting with the preparations,” he said.

The Chipolopolo Boys are expected to arrive in the country tomorrow.