Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has confirmed the appointment of Avram Grant as Chipolopolo head coach.
The experienced Israeli and former Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham boss signed a two-year deal with the African nation ranked 88th in FIFA’s rankings, with an option to extend.
FAZ said the appointment of Grant, who succeeds Asanovic, signals a new dawn.
Avram Grant has one of the most diverse CVs in football management. His first senior job in management was all the way back in 1986, while his last job was in 2018 as interim boss of Indian football club NorthEast United FC.
Grant, 67, who has won honours as a manager in his home country as well as in England and Serbia, managed to beat Hossam Albadry, Roberto Blanchi, Goran Stankovic, Antoine Hey, Peter Butler, Sebastian Migne, Gert Engels, Wedson Nyirenda, and Honour Janza, who had been shortlisted for the position.
Grant hopes to build good foundation for Zambia.
The former Blues and West Ham United manager has been appointed to fill the position that was left vacant when Aljosa Asanovic and FAZ parted ways in September.
Asanovic was in charge of the Zambian national team for eight months before he terminated his contract.
Since Asanovic left, Moses Sichone has been acting as the head coach for the Cosafa nation.
FAZ President Andrew Kamanga welcomed the appointment of Grant, hoping it is a new beginning for Zambia.
“Today’s occasion signals a new beginning for our game. Mr. Grant is a well-known figure in world football. He was previously the national team coach for Ghana and Israel,” said the FA chief.
“At club level, he has coached Maccabi Tel Aviv, Chelsea, Portsmouth, and West Ham, among others,” Kamanga said.
“I wish to thank all of you who participated in the transparent process of picking the coach,” he said.
On his part, Grant – who is expected to steer the country to the next Africa Cup of Nations finals in January 2024 in Ivory Coast – explained why he accepted the Chipolopolo job.
“I’m very happy to be here. This is my first time in Zambia. It is a lovely country. I think Zambia has the potential, we have set the targets of what we want to achieve,” Grant stated.
“I was looking for the right challenge, and that’s why I chose Zambia. I came here because of the challenge, and I hope when I leave here I will look around and say we did a good job and made a good foundation for the future,” he said.
Grant faces high expectations as he takes over the Chipolopolo hot seat. With his massive experience gathered from his stints at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Haifa, Portsmouth, and Partizan Belgrade, hopes are high that Grant can guide Zambia back to their glory days.
The Zambia appointment gives the Israeli tactician a return ticket to African football, as he was in charge of Ghana between 2014 and 2017.
Apart from guiding the Black Stars to the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea in 2015, Grant steered the West African country to the semi-finals of the 2017 tournament, where Ghana lost to eventual winners Cameroon.
Should Zambia qualify for the Ivory Coast finals, it will be regarded as an achievement, as the 2012 champions have failed to make it into the last three editions.
Grant will be in charge when Zambia resume their AFCON qualifying campaign in March 2023. They will face Lesotho home and away as they attempt to consolidate their position in AFCON Qualifying Group H.
Grant’s time in England was most notable for leading Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final, which they lost on penalties to Manchester United.
The Israeli also steered Portsmouth to the 2010 FA Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
Grant’s biggest achievement in England was getting Chelsea to 2008 Champions League final.
The Israeli manager led Portsmouth to the 2010 FA Cup final where they lost out to Chelsea. But he was in charge of Portsmouth and West Ham when they were both relegated from the Premier League.
Grant later led Ghana to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final and a penalty shoot-out defeat to the Ivory Coast.
Zambia did not qualify for the World Cup in Qatar but Grant sees lots of ‘potential’.
“I think Zambia has the potential, we have set the targets of what we want to achieve,” Grant said.
Zambia failed to qualify for the African knockout stages of 2022 World Cup qualification and parted company with Croatian coach Aljosa Asanovic in October.
Grant’s first games will be when Zambia resume their AFCON qualifying campaign in March 2023.
However, Zambia have several talented young players, including Rangers forward Fashion Sakala and Leicester City striker Patson Daka, who won the Under-20 Nations Cup in 2017 and reached the quarter-finals of the U20 World Cup the same year.