chansa pines for sa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

KUMASI - Creative Zambian international midfielder Isaac Chansa may have settled down at his new home in Sweden, where he plays for Helsingborg, but he confessed to missing the South African soccer atmosphere.

"Everything is going well for me in Sweden. One has been getting royal treatment and I'm enjoying it to the fullest," said Chansa before Zambia's national team, Chipolopolo, returned to Lusaka after bombing out in the first round of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations finals.

The dreadlocked Chansa joined Helsingborg in September last year on the recommendation of former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, who used to be in charge of their technical staff. Baxter has since been appointed coach of the Finland senior national soccer side.

"Stuart is gone but life goes on, my job is to play soccer. We are doing well as a club but I have to confess that the situation in Sweden is completely different from the one in South Africa where the people are more passionate," said Chansa.

"You know that I used to play for a big club in Orlando Pirates. We were always under pressure to get the results from all quarters. There was nothing like a friendly game.

"The creativity of the majority of South African supporters is great. I always miss the songs by people like Mzion [Mofokeng] and company in the build-up to a game. It was worse when the game was in progress, with the club leading.

"The smell of a fried steak and cooked pap when you approach the stadium entrance was great.

"In Europe, one has to buy a bag of maize meal and other things in Johannesburg if you miss them," said Chansa, who has signed a three-year deal with Helsingborg.

On Chipolopolo's failure to advance to the quarterfinals of the Afcon in Ghana, Chansa said: "It's a bad thing that we are now out of the tournament. I thought we did well but were killed by the game against Cameroon [losing 5-1].

"We made silly schoolboy errors, in the process conceding five soft goals. Our defence was leaking. But I must say we have learned a lot from this tournament and hope to perform far better in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

"It was also a good experience for some of the youngsters as we will soon be starting with the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup," said Chansa.

He said that it was bad for southern African soccer that only Angola, of the four countries from the region at the tournament, had qualified for the knockout stages. This was after South Africa, Namibia and Zambia were all knocked out.

"While we all wish Angola to do well, it is not good for the region to have three countries going back in the first round. We need to work hard on our preparations and send some youngsters to Europe to gain international experience."