By Fred Maingi
Africa Cup of Nations champions Zambia have suffered a major blow ahead of their saturday (Oct 13) crucial Nations Cup qualifier against Uganda after their play maker Rainford Kalaba withdrew after sustaining a groin injury. The injury has been received with joy and celebrations by the entire Uganda Soccer fraternity after the player 'destroyed"Uganda Cranes defence in the first leg staged last month in Kitwe,Zambia. The latter won 1-0. Cranes need to win by a 2-0 result to qualify for the finals next year.Kalaba sustained a groin injury during TP Mazembe’s goalless draw against Tunisian side Esperance in the first leg of their African Champions League semi-final on Sunday. The earliest time the player can resume active player, according to the Congolese club’s doctor Taha Messaoud, will be after a minimum of seven day's. “The injury is not too bad but he needs a lot of care. It will be very difficult for him to play this weekend,” Messaoud told BBC Sport. The 26-year-old is the heart and soul of this Zambian team. He is the commander and match maker. Without him, the Zambians are virtually lifeless. Kalaba, whose performances for club and country have earned him a place among the nominees for the African Player of the Year award, admitted he was disappointed to miss the decisive qualifier. “I am very disappointed because it’s a crucial game for us. If we don’t qualify, people back home will not understand,” he said. “I just pray that the guys get a positive result in Uganda. I believe in them and I know they will do wonders when they go there,” Kalaba hinted. Throughout the 2012 Nations Cup tournament, Kalaba was the little engine that drove Zambia forward. As far as the entire tournament was concerned, no player was as central or pivotal to a team’s success as Kalaba was for Zambia. Kalaba is an instinctive goal-poacher who can also run the channels or shoot from outside the box. His teammates call him ‘The Master’. Kalaba featured in all six of Zambia’s starting elevens in the 2012 tournament, playing a huge piece in the team’s success. . Zambia however boast of a galaxy of talented players that rotate along five established strikers Chamanga, Mulenga, Mayuka, Christopher Katongo, Jonas Sakuwaha ,Jacob Mulenga and Southermpton striker Emmanuel Mayuka.
Meanwhile disaster struck Sudan after their 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Zambia was overturned by FIFA's disciplinary committee.Subsequently, Zambia was awarded a 3-0 win.
To add more insult to Sudans ambition,Fifa has also fined Sudan 6,000 Swiss francs ($6,384),for fielding an ineligible player in the match on June 2. Sudan have lodged an appeal.
The decision means that African champions Zambia, who have never qualified for the World Cup, went top of African Group D with six points from two games. Sudan, who had led the group, dropped from first to third with four points.
It is also a blow to 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana, who lost 1-0 to Zambia on June 9 and have three points from two games.
FIFA did not give further details. Zambian media reports said that Sudan's Saif Ali, who scored the second goal, should not have been playing due to suspension