After finishing the participation in the African Championship, the Zambian coach in a special interview with ONE:

“The preparation hurt us severely, what happened does not contribute to my future with the national team”

Avraham Grant hoped to end the African Championship in a different way.

This is the third time he participated in the tournament, this time with the Zambian team, previously it was with the Ghanaian team, which he also led to the finals.

After Zambia was already eliminated in the group stage, Grant speaks in a special interview with ONE.

The coach summarizes the participation in the championship, does not spare criticism from the heads of the association in Zambia and even claims that the poor preparation hurt the team very much.

Tells about the meeting with the members of the Moroccan national team, does not hide the dream that he still has to achieve in football, about the future in the Zambia national team and also what he still wants to achieve.

QUESTION: Avraham, how do you summarize the championship ?

“This is the first championship after many years with players participating for the first time in the African Championship. It was a really good championship, we finished in our natural place which is the third place. We stood with respect against the two teams that are stronger than us. Against Morocco we deserved at least a point. All in all, I am satisfied and everyone in Zambia is also satisfied.”

QUESTION: You are a winner. Are you suddenly happy with third place ?

“Everything depends on the circumstances. With all due respect, if I have Hapoel Ra’anana I will be satisfied with fifth place without of course harming Ra’anana. The team that played yesterday, nine players have not played for a long time in their teams in Europe, I have not encountered such a phenomenon. Zambia is currently a generation of players, not many of whom play in Europe and not in the most senior leagues. We have Patson Deka in Leicester who until a month ago sat on the bench, the defender who plays in the second division in Scotland, the midfielder who plays in the second division in the Czech Republic.”

QUESTION: How much did the poor preparation hurt you?

“Very, sharply. We made good preparations because I have Jimmy Lawrence in the team, a fitness trainer who is an expert in these things and we trained the players. They made us 30-hour flights with 9-hour connections. One flight had 4 stops in the middle. As a result, we lost 11 training units and another 2 training games. In the second half against Morocco we surpassed them in terms of physical fitness, it should have been like that from the first game but we lacked training. I’m not afraid to say that they’ll say I’m making excuses, I’m telling about objective reasons that I’ve never come across.”

It is not only that the players are inexperienced, the entire management of the association in Zambia is inexperienced, one that is not from football at all and has never been to the African Championship. The first time they understood what they were doing was when we played against Cameroon, where Samuel Eto’o is the chairman of the association and he explained to them the conditions and how many practice matches they played, how many training sessions they did and that they flew a direct flight from Dubai compared to us. It was very difficult to deal with the conditions and I think we did it overall well. If it wasn’t for the refereeing in the second game, who gave us a red card that was later proven not to have been, and a penalty that was to our credit and was not whistled, we would have gone up despite everything

QUESTION: Is the poor conditions in Zambia something that can affect your continued journey there?

“I don’t want to get into it right now, there will be a meeting and we’ll talk about it, but it certainly doesn’t contribute. The vice president spoke to me today, he told me that they learned from the mistakes and that they want to change things. If they want to change things that’s great, I like challenges, but let’s just say this was the hardest preparation I’ve had since I’ve been coaching football. I have never encountered such a thing. Under all circumstances, I am satisfied. We faced better teams than us equally if not more. And factually – everyone is in a happy country.”

QUESTION: As an Israeli, how were you received there at the championship? How did you feel?

“Very Good. They received me well, they didn’t talk about Israel except at the first press conference when I started talking about the abductees and that it was hard for me to be far from the country, and then the guy from the organizing committee politely asked me not to talk about politics. I told the truth, that it is difficult to be far from the country in this period. My family and friends in Israel. But I must point out that there was no problem, all the Moroccans shook my hand, Hakim Zaish who knows me also hugged me. We need to explain ourselves a little better because Israel is 100 percent right.”

QUESTION: Ghana, who coached her twice in the African Championship, was eliminated. What do you think about it?

“I think Ghana has much better player material than it was in my time. She has Mohammed Quddus who is a world class actor and other excellent actors and I was really surprised that they were eliminated. I can’t talk about it because I don’t know what the reasons are, but Ghana hasn’t fallen in recent years because of the coaches.”

QUESTION: Have you already received requests from Ghana to return?

“No, nor would I accept an application because I currently have an agreement here in Zambia.”

QUESTION: Who do you think will win the championship?

“I think both Morocco and Congo, who came from our house, are capable of taking it. Senegal is very strong and there are always surprises. There are several candidates that can take, but for now Senegal is the most impressive and also Morocco, even though they didn’t deserve to win against us.”

QUESTION: Are you now returning to the political struggles against anyone who goes against Israel in England? Who is in your sights? who is next?

“Anyone who goes against Israel, I can express my opinion that he is not right. Until now I have come out against people who behaved in a very ugly way, ignoring the terrible massacre that happened on October 7th. It’s simply intolerable, there was a massacre here that I don’t remember like it and those I went against are being ignored and that upsets me a lot.”

QUESTION: Did you get to talk to Gary Lineker?

“No, he is not my friend. In his case, the English FA called me and told me I was right. Lineker didn’t call to say that. There is antisemitism and hypocrisy in the world, but there is also a lot of ignorance, and that is why we need to explain the truth, that Israel is defending itself and will never harm innocent people on purpose, and I certainly will not try, burn and cut off heads. I was also interviewed about these things in Africa. I’m not that fond of these things, I prefer to be interviewed only about football, but something unusual happened so I’m also doing something unusual for me. Tomorrow, January 27, is International Holocaust Day, a symbolic and special day, and we are ordered to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and what happened there. Israel must defend itself, there is no other way.”

QUESTION: You’ve been through it all in football, what else do you feel you want to achieve before you retire?

“I am not retiring, never and I lack nothing. I never lacked for anything. I was raised by my parents to always be happy with what you have, I am very proud of my parents’ upbringing. I was always happy in my part, but wherever I go I want to meet my goals.”

QUESTION: You used to want to coach in MLS, is that still with you?

“I didn’t want to coach but to be a partner in the team and really I still want to have my own team. All the time I train and work for others. My friend wanted to buy a team and wanted to include me and I was definitely interested. I wanted to do things for myself instead of working for others as a coach. This is perhaps what I lack, to take a team and manage it professionally and to take someone with me to manage it financially.”

QUESTION : There are many groups in Israel that are looking to buy them.

“I don’t want to buy a team, but connect with someone who wants to buy and be part of it as a professional manager. It could have happened with Panathinaikos that my friend wanted to buy it and in the end it didn’t materialize, but part of the ownership with responsibility for the professional matter and making all the professional decisions strategically, it does appeal to me. I am a man of the grass, of the field.”

QUESTION: You have a lot of millionaire and billionaire friends, how come it doesn’t come true?

“I have friends from all walks of life, but it still hasn’t worked out. Not everyone wants to join a soccer team, not everyone is crazy.”

QUESTION: By the way, what about Marko confusion? How was he in the championship?

“The conditions we worked with this time, I never had them before, and I trained in Petah Tikva when we didn’t have a budget for a cup of tea and I trained in other problematic places. But the conditions we worked in this time, with the lack of training and days of flights to reach the destination 3-4 days before a game, and players who don’t play regularly but gave their souls and I’m so proud of them.

They fought until the last second and behind them stood an amazing team. Marco did a great job, Shahar did a great job, a remote fan did a great job, and Jimmy the fitness trainer who is amazing. If we were able to compete equally with better teams than us, it is because of the team.”

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