World Cup Qualifiers: Missing Mwepu and Daka will not affect Zambia but ‘will be unfair’ – Kamanga

The federation boss insist they are keeping fingers crossed hoping the intervention by Caf and Fifa will allow African players to honour qualifiers

Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga has stated the decision by the Premier League to hold onto African players from countries on England’s “red list” will render the qualifying matches unfair.

On Tuesday, Premier League clubs confirmed in a statement they will not release players to honour international duty if they are turning out for countries on the UK’s red list.

The decision which affected at least 60 players was aimed at preventing them from having to quarantine on their return to England after the international break for qualifiers slated for September.

Kamanga, whose Chipolopolo will miss the services of Leicester City forward Patson Daka and Brighton & Hove Albion striker Enock Mwepu should the decision stand, has explained the qualifiers will not be fair as most of the best players for Africa nations are currently playing in England.

“If you don’t have the players from the English Premier League, it will render the World Cup competition not fair because most of the best players [in Africa] are currently playing in England,” Kamanga said as quoted by Zambia FA website.

“At worst, we will only be replacing two players; Patson [Daka] and Enock [Mwepu]. It wouldn’t be so much of a challenge but we needed to have the full team but if circumstances dictate that we are unable to have that, the technical bench have put in place measure to address the shortcomings.

“Mauritania is not on the red list so we expect all the professionals to be in Morocco [for camping] and play in Mauritania, the worst-case scenario is for them to miss out on the home game [against Tunisia].”

Zambia will play back-to-back matches against Mauritania on September 3 and Tunisia four days later.

On Wednesday, Caf l appealed to the British government to allow African players to travel for next month’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

“Caf has noted the current circumstances in place in Britain regarding the lack of sporting exemptions for players returning from several African countries after the international window next week,” read the statement.

“Caf, acting on behalf of all African Member Associations, African players and fans, has urged the British Government to urgently provide the required exemptions to enable African players to compete for their countries in the upcoming Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers.

“Caf notes that similar exemptions were granted by the British Government to enable the attendance of delegations and officials, amongst others, at the finals of the European Championship held less than two months ago.”

Meanwhile, Fifa president Gianni Infantino also urged the organisers of the Premier League and La Liga to reverse their decision to ban players from travelling for the qualifiers.

“We have faced global problems together in the past and must continue to do so in the future. The release of players in the upcoming international windows is a matter of great urgency and importance,” Infantino said in a statement. 

“I am grateful for the support and cooperation from many stakeholders in the game during this challenging period. I am calling on a show of solidarity from every member association, every league, and every club to do what is both right and fair for the global game.”

Other top African teams set to be affected if the Premier League order stands include Nigeria and Egypt.

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